Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
More Birds Arriving Despite Weather
May 16, 2020
By Steve Grinley
As we near mid-May and the usual the peak of spring migration, the weather continues not to cooperate. Instead of southwest winds that bring us warmer temperatures in the 60’s and low 70’s, we still experience more northwest winds that keep temperatures in the 50’s. The forecast going forward is not much better.
The first wave of migrants reached us last week as I (and Doug Chickering) described. Since then, more migrants have trickled in, but not the waves of birds that we are used to for mid-May. We are hopeful for the weather to improve for the rest of the month.
Still, we are enjoying up to six male and two female Baltimore orioles at our home feeders in Essex. We are refilling jelly feeders everyday and going through a jar of jelly every other day. Catbirds are also enjoying the jelly and we have been blessed with two male scarlet tanagers that also have a sweet tooth.
This week, a female ruby-throated hummingbird stopped by our nectar feeders in addition to the male. Carolina wrens have brought 2 young to the mealworm feeders. Young house finches followed their parents to the seed feeders.
Today, I was surprised to see a handsome white-crowned sparrow under our feeders in the front of the house. One of my favorite sparrows, we often enjoyed small flocks of them at the store feeders every migration when I was in our other building with more outdoor feeders. I missed them, so this first for our home feeders was particularly enjoyable.
Also today, I caught a glimpse of a small gray sparrow with fine chest stripes moving about the foundation plantings in out front yard. It was a Lincoln’s sparrow. This is one of the less common sparrows we always seek when they are moving though during migration.
I called Margo over to look, but she was only able to view it head, just before in ducked into a holly and disappeared. We went outside and looked, but could not relocate him. I had definitive looks, but Margo did not.
So we went birding. Daniel Boone Park in Ipswich was relative quiet. A couple of parula warblers, a redstart, and a number of black & white warblers were there. A blue-head vireo sang as did breasted grosbeaks and a wood thrush. But little else.
We saw a report from earlier in the day by our young friend, Sam Mroz, who isn’t so young anymore as he has been driving himself to many birding locations during this pandemic and finding some excellent birds. His report of a Lincoln Sparrow and Wilson’s warbler at Little Crane Pond in West Newbury enticed us to check it out.
We were greeted there with a singing yellow warbler and a yellow-rumped warbler. We heard a singing rose-breasted grosbeak and a distant Virginia rail in the marsh. As we headed back from the ponds edge, a sparrow darted across the path –a Lincoln’s sparrow! Margo finally got good looks at this bird, and some photos!
Down another path a pair of veery led the way ahead of us. They are handsome thrushes with warm rust brown back and pale breast, lacking the spots of most of the other thrushes. Along the path we encountered a redstart, black & white warblers, and gnatcatchers. We soon came upon the Wilson’s warbler that Sam had reported – yellow underneath, greenish back and a small black cap on the top of his head. Cute bird. Thank you Sam, we appreciated your report!