Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Birds Add Color to Mother’s Day Weekend
May 11, 2019
By Steve Grinley
I woke up this morning to the bright red of a scarlet tanager at our jelly feeder! Turns out that this brilliant red bird with jet-black wings is very fond of grape jelly as it continues to visit all day. In fact, now we have two male tanagers at the jelly. They are competing with six Baltimore orioles and a couple of catbirds so we have had to add additional jelly feeders to try to keep them all happy.
At the other feeders are two pair of rose-breasted grosbeaks along with our usual purple and house finches and dozens of goldfinches. At least one pair of hummingbirds is visiting the hummingbird feeders. We still have visits from an occasional pine siskin and our regular cardinals, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, white-throated and chipping sparrows, along with red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers provide a steady background of activity. The pallet of color and the symphony of song in our yard is just amazing this week.
This scene is apparently being repeated all over the area. So many customers are telling me of multiple Baltimore and orchard orioles, hummingbirds, and grosbeaks arriving at their feeders this week. A few have even been lucky enough to add a splash of blue to the array of color with visits by an indigo bunting at their finch feeders. One customer in Peabody had a male blue grosbeak visiting his sunflower and another area resident had a rare yellow-headed blackbird at her feeders!
A flock of evening grosbeaks is still frequenting feeders in Ipswich and pine siskins are also still appearing in Boxford and West Newbury. A few white-crowned sparrows have joined white-throated sparrows under some area feeders. Our pair of Carolina wrens continue regular visits to our mealworms – stuffing their bills and carrying the worms off to feed their first brood. Bluebirds are also feeding their first broods around this time.
Speaking of wrens, the smaller house wrens are arriving. Customers have told me that their male house wrens are already bringing sticks to their wren houses, and other houses, with the hope that the female wrens will approve of one. Their bubbly song is a welcome addition to the backyard chorus.
These birds, and so many more, are also being seen beyond the backyard. Spring migration is upon us, and many of the warblers, vireos, thrushes and flycatchers are flitting among trees and shrubs everywhere. Recent days have produced more than a dozen species of warblers on Plum Island. I counted more than a hundred terns, mostly common terns, in Newburyport Harbor this week as they have returned. Joppa Flats are once again being dotted with yellowlegs, willets, black-bellied plovers and other shorebirds.
Spring migration always peaks in mid-May, often in time for Mother’s Day. The store is very busy with folks choosing a gift for Mom that helps her enjoy the season even more. Hummingbird, oriole, or other feeders are “flying” off the shelves. Decorative bird houses for returning birds are ever popular. Binoculars for bringing birds and nature closer enhance the viewing experience.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there! Enjoy the colorful birds in your backyard and beyond!
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