Migrating Birds

They Are Back

Around this time in spring we prepare a welcome mat for the migrating birds, both the ones that come to stay for a season or just passing through.  We clean the birdhouses that were left out during winter for cold night roosting and set them back up.  Plenty of food is put out as well and we make some effort to insure the feeders won’t get emptied by larger birds like the Mourning doves, Grackles, European Starlings and Blue Jays by using weight sensitive feeders.  Grackles and Blue Jays manage to work these feeders anyway by bouncing up and down.  But we don’t mind since they can’t really land on the feeder blocking small birds from getting on.

We take our cues from the plants and trees in the garden.  We put oranges out when the cherry trees blossom; that is when the Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) start to show up.  We put sugar syrup out when the Columbine starts to bloom.  That’s when Ruby-throated Hummingbirds reach us from the south.

Arriving on the same schedule are the tree Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor). They’re looking for nesting boxes now.  This year is much harder for them since the Eastern Bluebird beat them to nesting, having eggs now, get very territorial.  They don’t want any neighbors, even when the closest box is 20 feet away the male Bluebird still chases any bird who has the temerity to stray too close.  Also House Sparrows that try to nest in every box in the yard.  It seems like an uphill battle for the Swallows but they still try and we do our best chasing the Sparrows to give them an edge.

A pair of Tree Swallows checking one of the nest boxes.  They have not yet picked one.

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) has also arrived.  Generally we only see the male at this time of year.  Some years they will stay through the season but some years they just pass through.

A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak enjoy chipped sunflower seeds and peanuts
A male Baltimore Oriole enjoying oranges

I know that the Baltimore Orioles are here, aside from the cherry tree cue, we can hear them.  They haven’t come down for the oranges yet.  Above is an image captured last year.

 

Happy New Year

In Anticipation Of A Better Year

Happy New Year 2017

I would like to present you with the image of a warmer day in our garden, the Zephirine Drouhin rose.  A climbing fragrant rose that blooms continuously throughout the season.  One of many things I anticipate again in June.

Zephirine Drouhin is never a disappointment. It blooms heavily at first then continues to bloom here and there until autumn.
Zephirine Drouhin is never a disappointment. It blooms heavily at first then continues to bloom here and there until autumn.

About this ‘anticipation’, I got the idea from a free bookmark I received from the American Horticultural Society of which I am a member.  There is a quote from W.E Johns on the back “One of the most delightful things about gardening is the anticipation it provides.”  It couldn’t be more true for me.

We all hope for better.  We hope our garden will fare better than last year, our beehives thrive, our little friends who stay put survive the winter and our migrating friends come back to visit.  We anticipate for better so we won’t lose hope.

Here are some of the anticipated events:

We anticipate that more Monarch butterflies will be back next year as we have plenty of Milkweed and late summer flowers for them to feed on before they travel back south for their winter hibernation. We hope that children will get to see them in real life, not just on screen, for many more years to come.
We anticipate that more Monarch butterflies will be back next year as we have plenty of Milkweed and late summer flowers for them to feed on before they travel back south for their winter hibernation. We hope that children will get to see them in real life, not just on screen, for many more years to come.
We anticipate the next generation of this Honeybee on Goldenrod will be stronger and more resilient so they can help us humans survive.
We anticipate the next generation of this Honeybee on Goldenrod will be stronger and more resilient so they can help us humans survive.
We anticipate that this summer resident- Baltimore Oriole will bring his children, that were born here, back for a red carpet treatment of fresh oranges and organic jelly.
We anticipate that this summer resident- Baltimore Oriole will bring his children, that were born here, back for a red carpet treatment of fresh oranges and organic jelly.
We anticipate that the Eastern Bluebird which has stayed put with us in the last couple of winters, will bring up more kids, enjoy their communal bath and help rid us of pests. We hope they will continue being our state bird for eons to come since their population has increased in recent years.
We anticipate that the Eastern Bluebird which has stayed put with us in the last couple of winters, will bring up more kids, enjoy their communal bath and help rid us of pests. We hope they will continue being our state bird for eons to come since their population has increased in recent years.

These are just a few of our anticipations for this year.  We have been doing our best to give back to nature since she gives us so much joy.  It’s our sanctuary amidst this divided world.

As for the world outside our garden, we hope that there are  solutions for all conflicts so we stop being so divided and ruining ourselves in the process.  We dream of a magic pill that will wipe out hate, bigotry, and selfishness from so many people’s brains, that the world can be a better place to live and a wonderful place to pass on to the next generation.   Let’s hope that some of these dreams will come true this year.  We cannot lose hope, it’s the only thing that keeps us going.  Even if that hope is just a dim light at the end of the tunnel.

Whatever your anticipations and dreams are, we wish they came true for you.  

 

 

 

Sound of Spring

Birdsong

Most migrating birds are back and that provides a dawn to dusk symphony  in the garden.  Spring seems to be the season the birds sing the loudest; need to declare territory and for the males to show the ladies that he can sing.  After observing them for years, I can tell now when they will be back.  The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) will be back when the cherry trees start to bud.  The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) will be passing through at the same time.  They summer further north.  Hummingbirds will come when the columbine starts to bloom.  Tree Swallows are here as soon as the insects are flying about.

Nature’s impeccable timing.

I was sick last week so gardening in the sun was off limits.  Setting up a blind to take bird photos was too much work when my head felt like it would explode any minute.  But sitting around doing nothing would have made me even sicker, that’s when the light bulb came on.

iPhone, little tripod for phone, remote control…..should work…..and it did.  I just sat there 30 feet away clicking the remote control, capturing the birds activity up close without interrupting them.

Phone tripod wrapped around the pole and the video turned on and off by remote control
Phone tripod wrapped around the pole and the video turned on and off by remote control

Here are a couple of videos: Baltimore Oriole enjoyed his oranges and Some backyard birds at the feeder.  I will post some other birds when I have time to edit some of my experimental videos.

Hummingbirds are my next target.

They’re Back

…Time For Us To Play Host Again

Most of the birds that migrate south during winter have come back. The Tree Swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) came back before everyone else. They swooped around looking for their old houses that I had removed for the winter. They checked out the Bluebirds nest box and were chased off by the occupants.  As soon as I put the box back up where it was used by them last year, they took ownership with in minutes.  Another pair took one nest box in the front but was harassed relentlessly by the House sparrows.  I hope that it doesn’t deter the Swallows from staying with us.

A Tree Swallow sunbathing
A Tree Swallow sunbathing
A couple resting in front of their nest box
A couple resting in front of their nest box

The Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) also came back to the feeder.  I have seen just the males, no females in sight yet.  Chipping Sparrows (Spizella passerine), Gray Catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis), House Wrens (Troglodytes aedon) and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (Archilochus colubris) are back as well.  The Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) settled for the suet as many of the fruit trees around here haven’t blossom yet.

A male Baltimore Oriole at the suet
A male Baltimore Oriole at the suet
A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak packing up on seeds
A male Rose-breasted Grosbeak packing up on seeds
Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird defending his feeder
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird defending his feeder
Male Yellow Warbler looking for insects in rose bush
Male Yellow Warbler looking for insects in rose bush

I haven’t seen the White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys), Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) yet this year.  But the spring is still young and very cold.  Hopefully they’ll filter in with the warmth.

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