Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Changing of the Avian Seasonal Guard

I've been watching the summer birds slowly move into the yard over the last several weeks and months, and it suddenly hit me this morning that the change from winter birds to summer birds is almost complete.

The goldfinch seemed to totally disappear for a few weeks; now I have maybe 2 pairs in full breeding plumage. They suddenly appeared about a week ago, presumably from points further south.

Looking back at my notes, I had 83 Harris sparrows at the feeders on February 15th. Even 2 weeks ago, I regularly had a dozen or so chowing down. I have 2 this morning, and any day I expect them to be gone as they move north. Also on February 15th, I had 14 cardinals - now I'm estimating that 2 pairs are nesting somewhere in the yard, but I rarely see more than a single male or female at the feeders at any one time.

These days I have a pair of brown thrashers that comes to the feeders, as well as a regular pair of chickadees, the goldfinch and cardinals mentioned above, and several house sparrows, grackles, and cowbirds. I still see woodpeckers, although mainly just downies and red-bellieds. I haven't seen the flickers or hairies for several weeks now.

It's the time of year when I start wondering if I should take the feeders down, since I really don't want to swell the numbers of brown-headed cowbirds, grackles, and house sparrows unnecessarily. Not yet, though. Maybe not at all this year. I'm still pretty evenly mixed between "good" and "bad" birds.

Meanwhile, both Prairiewolf and I are enjoying the mockingbirds who are (literally) calling our yard home. There has been a pair of blue-winged teal hanging out on the lagoon for the past week (although I haven't seen them in a couple days), and I saw a northern waterthrush in the swale last week. I've seen "butter butts" (yellow-rumped warblers) several times, and we've seen phoebes, barn swallows, and purple martins checking us out. I keep hoping that a few of them will decide this would be a good place to settle down and raise a family. We'll see what the summer brings.

No comments: