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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hummingbirds Are Arriving Are You Ready?

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have been arriving in the South since Feb. but they do not reach northern areas until mid to end of April. Will you be ready? Here's how to attract them.

Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. That's because the flowers they favor in nature are mainly red tubular flowers. These flowers have their own adaptations to be attractive to hummingbirds, such as they have just the right nectar concentrations and long tubes so bees cannot access the nectar. Thus they give the hummers nectar and in turn the hummingbirds carry pollen on their foreheads from one flower to another, thus pollinating the flowers.

We roll out the red welcome mat by,

- Putting up lots of hummingbird feeders with red 
- Putting up hanging baskets of early red flowers such as hanging fuschia, etc. as most annuals and perennials are not blooming yet. Later we plant those flowers
- Tying red bows to the posts the hummingbird feeders hang from
- Keep feeders filled with fresh hummingbird nectar, change nectar every 2 days in hot weather.

Get the early hummingbirds and you may have some remain and breed. You will also attract lots of migrants that are passing through on their way to their previous breeding grounds. Even though these do not breed near you, they will remember you as a good stopping place on their next migrations.
If you live in the West, you may have had hummingbirds all year and/or lots of hummingbirds that have returned already, lucky you.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Cerulean Warblers migrating now!

Cerulean Warbler, male
Cerulean Warbler, female

Beautiful Cerulean Warblers are migrating through the Gulf of Mexico now. This rare warbler is a declining species and its population has dropped 70% since 1966. They prefer large dense forests to nest and the majority of them breed in the Appalachians where loss of their breeding habitat occurs because of mining and land reclamation. They winter in South America in the Andes and face migration challenges of wind farms on the Gulf Coast. Enjoy them when you see them. The photo of the female I took at Magee Marsh at The Biggest Week in American Birding festival in May. It appears in our Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America as well as multiple photos of each species of North American warbler and all the other species.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Attract Nesting Eastern Bluebirds!

Yard happenings this morning in the dim morning light. Male Eastern Bluebird stands guard, while his mate builds the nest. They like resting on the fencepost before they enter the nest. Attract bluebirds with a good nest box and mealworms. They are such a joy to watch and the soft light brings out to blue of his back. Of the bluebird Henry David Thoreau wrote (March 1859) "Princes and magistrates are often styled serene, but what is their turbid serenity to that ethereal serenity which the bluebird embodies."

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Two Billion Migrant Birds are coming soon!!

Two billion birds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico. Peak migration is April 19 - May 7, according to a new study. Migrants such as this male Baltimore Oriole, are coming soon! Attract orioles with oranges, grape jelly and mealworms. Read more,

Monday, April 01, 2019

FOY (first of year) Chipping Sparrow just arrived!!

FOY (first of year) Chipping Sparrow just arrived yesterday. Migrants are returning! Attract this cute native sparrow to your feeders with sunflower or a quality mixed seed. They like platform feeders and to feed off the ground. They nest in dense shrubs or small trees.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

American Woodcocks Have Arrived!

American Woodcocks have arrived and are displaying at dusk! Go out to large field areas at dusk and listen for their tell-tale "peent" call. Then they launch into the air in a display and at the height give high-pitched chirping and twittering sounds. The males display in open areas to attract a female. Then they mate and she nests in the woods and raises the brood on her own.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Greater Prairie-Chickens Amazing!

Some years ago we were lucky to witness the wonderful mating rituals that occur this time of year for Greater Prairie-Chickens. Here is the post,

The next stop was Charleston, IL where we stayed in this wonderful log home bed and breakfast called Osage Inn.  We got up at 3:30 am the next morning to drive to the Prairie Ridge State Natural Area, a 3,500 acre site managed by the Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources. We had to be in a blind before sunrise so as not to disturb the Greater Prairie-Chickens who come to their display ground. Males come in at dawn and begin their "booming," an incredible haunting sound that is less like booming and more reminsicent of Native American flute-like music. They rapidly stamp their feet and inflate large orange sacks on the sides of their throats. They also make other noises, including a maniacal cackling that sounds like a cross between a Pied-billed Grebe, Barred Owl, and rubber ducky. When the females arrive, the males make whooping sounds. They have what is called a "lek" mating system. Males display, then females come on the display grounds and mate with the males, then go off to lay eggs and raise the young. The whole thing was one of the more spectacular avian events we have ever witnessed. Lillian took many, many photos, here are a few more.

We hope to show you additional photos at a later time. Tomorrow we return home to Bobolink Farm.