BIRDS, BIRDS, BIRDS!
So many colorful, neotropical migrants are showing up now. Here is a sampling.
All seemed right with the world when a Kentucky Warbler sang its 'Purdy-purdy' song.
New Bubbler Bird #123, a female Orchard Oriole was here several days.
A gorgeous Scarlet Tanager came in.
Brilliant Indigo Buntings are present.
Two male Golden-winged Warblers joined two Tennessee Warblers in a flurry yesterday, May 2, 2021.
For all the beautiful birds since the last post, begin here: Warblers and more since 4-25-21
Arrow Rock Birds & Bees Festival
Check out our booth at the Festival! Learn about adding a dripper for birds. Get free handouts!
Have fun learning!
Find out more and register: Birds & Bees Festival
SNOW and 27.9 degrees!
It was strange to see emerging foliage and spring wildflowers covered in snow, followed by two mornings with a hard freeze. For the most part, plants are in recovery mode. Some will need time to push out new leaves.
A somewhat late female Yellow-bellied Sapsucker came in briefly last Saturday, 4-18-21. A Brown Creeper has been seen several days, the last being 4-21-21. Pine Siskins are still around, up to four birds have been at the feeders some days.
Hermit Thrushes have been here nearly every day, some days we've seen three of them. They have a distinct habit of raising, then slowly lowering their tails, barely moving anything else. They will soon move on, giving way to three other thrush species in May. One was singing this morning in the gentle rain. Listen here: Hermit Thrush
Ruby-crowned Kinglets are also here, feeding and getting in to bathe. On 4-21-21, the coldest morning, the Golden-crowned Kinglet joined the Ruby-crowned at the bubbler rock, and then enjoyed the basin. The Golden-crowned is a bit smaller, only 3.5 - 4" compared to the Ruby-crowned at 4.25". This is the first time they've been photographed this close together. I believe the Golden-crowned was a female as it did not flash the fiery orange crown of the male and the other bird did not chase it away!
Nesters have been very busy and a bit more quiet as they find food to take to their young. A Northern Cardinal took time to bathe while the White-breasted Nuthatch and Northern Flicker were busy foraging.
Yellow-rumped Warblers have been regulars! Both male and females are being seen. Soon, more warblers will be coming through, if the winds will only help them.
Our FOY #59 Ruby-throated Hummingbird showed up on 4-21-21. It made it through the coldest nights. Typically, they can survive temps down into the 20's. It is another harbinger of spring and of birds to come!
Birds are coming in!
Yellow-rumped Warblers have arrived. The first one was seen on Tuesday, April 6, 2021. That same day, a Northern Parula was heard. Soon, we'll be seeing more neotropical migrants. The height of spring migration is upon us and the next four weeks will be busy!
An Eastern Phoebe was splash-bathing at the bubbler on a couple days. Now it seems these birds are busy gathering moistened nesting material. We've had some rain, which makes the muddy areas in the vernal wetland a likely place to spot this bird.
Hermit Thrushes have been coming in to forage. Some years they will overwinter and we see them more often, but not this year. Two were seen on Thursday, April 15, 2021.
A Brown Creeper found some tiny insects in the Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia). (Well, that makes total sense, a creeper in the creeper!) Pine Siskins stay in the trees most of the time now, but they still come to the feeders for a quick meal.
Another Winter Wren was here for a couple days. They are busy little birds and move so quickly through the vegetation. It stopped to check out the bubbler before going to the smooth hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens) and disappearing in the gooseberry patch (Ribes missouriense). A bumble bee was busy pollinating the tiny, pendulous flowers there.
This may be a first, I don't recall seeing a Downy Woodpecker getting in for a bath before! The female worked her way in carefully.
Back in 2003, I began to document the birds and other critters here and I'm still learning so much through this method. An exciting discovery this week was seeing the Ruby-crowned Kinglets feeding on reddish aphids in the Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium). In the last blown up photo, the bird has one in its bill and one clinging to its lower mandible! Wonders never cease, birds keep our native plants healthy!
The Bubbler is ready to greet the birds! Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and Red Buckeyes (Aesculus pavia) await the imminent arrival of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Time to get those feeders up.
To see all the photos taken in April, open this gallery: 2021 Birds as Shady Oaks Apr-June
If you're mostly interested in warblers, look here: 2021 Warblers
Well, life is a miracle, and therefore infinitely of interest everywhere.
Sure signs of spring, the song of the Carolina wren and an Eastern Phoebe, resting in a blooming Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).
Our first warbler of the year and one that I missed last year, arrived on March 30. The Louisiana Waterthrush, with its slow sway and 'bubblegum' legs, foraged, finding insects for twenty minutes or so in the wetland. Another was heard singing a few days later, but it played hide and seek in the swale.
Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) has been blooming and Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum) will be in another week or so. The hard freeze of the first two nights of April caused no damage that I could find to our native plants. They're tough, resilient and built to endure these swings in temperature.
Ephemerals like Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) may have shivered and sneezed in that cold, but they look lush and ready to bloom.
While weeding, I discovered a new seedling Red Buckeye (Aesculus pavia), a nice distance from its parent plant. Leaving the fallen leaves in the beds has provided the perfect conditions for the new tree.
At least one pair of Pine Siskins have been around continuously through the cold. Yesterday at noon, there were six briefly on a feeder.
American Goldfinches are going through their spring molt and looking brighter every day. They are often seen foraging on the American Elm seed clusters, along with the Pine Siskins.
Courting a female Northern Cardinal includes bringing treats, though this bird just wanted some private spa time!
This morning, our FOY #49 arrived, a tiny Winter Wren. Mouse-like and quick, it sure seemed to know its way around our woodland. Welcome, friend! More migrants will be on the move now so keep a lookout!