Friday, April 10, 2015

Some More Exciting Feeder Birds on the Way

Thanks to everyone who reported their first hummingbird sightings of the season. I received over 60 reports from readers reporting observations from as early as March 25. A few seemed to indicate rufous hummingbirds that were probably moving out as the ruby-throateds were moving in. By about March 31 the ruby-throated reports were exclusively pouring in. Keep in mind that these initial reports are likely a combination northbound birds and local breeders. There will probably be a decline in activity at feeders as the northern birds move out, reducing the temporary glut of hummingbirds in the area.  Keep the feeders up though, you may be lucky and host a breeding pair. If your birds seem to disappear, don’t worry. The feeding frenzy will return by late July as birds begin drifting south.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds, and other species, are arriving several days to almost a week earlier than they were a couple of decades ago. On March 22 I recorded my earliest Louisiana waterthrush by a full week. Yellow-throated vireos and prothonotary warblers used to show up well after April first. Now they are here by the end of March. Northern parulas appear in the southern portions of Mecklenburg County by the third week of March now, whereas April first used to be the arrival date.

Also keep in mind the birds that patronized your feeders through the winter have already moved on; my feeders went almost silent this week when the pine siskins finally departed. Continue to keep the feeders stocked however, especially with fresh sunflower seed. In just a couple of weeks some really exciting feeder birds will be passing through. Rose-breasted grosbeaks visit feeding stations for sunflower beginning in mid-April with a peak around May 1. The males are truly breathtaking. Indigo buntings and blue grosbeaks will take sunflower seeds too. Remember to provide fresh water through the spring too. The brightly colored tanagers and warblers that spend most of their time in the treetops have to descend several times a day to obtain water.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak by Ron Clark

From now through mid-May will be an especially exciting time for birders. Spring migration is accelerating giving folks a brief opportunity to observe northern breeders passing through the piedmont.