Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Migration Warming Up with the Weather
May 05, 2023
By Steve Grinley
This has been a transitional week for both weather and birds. Most of the week has been cold with our typical spring east wind off the water. A low pressure system sat northwest of us and spun waves of showers, and sometimes downpours, at us. It was blocking most birds from migrating up past New Jersey and into New England. By midweek it started to move southeast and slowly loosened it grip on controlling our weather.
Wednesday was a pivotal day, especially for orioles. They were reported from all over the area, many appearing at feeders for the first time this season. Ours was no exception. A brilliant male appeared at our jelly briefly. Later I heard him singing high in trees next to a neighbor’s yard where they had just taken down a number of tall oaks and maples. I imagined that the oriole was lamenting over the loss of its previous home. He visited our feeder again late afternoon and continues to come by for jelly.
Our first hummingbird appeared midweek. We don’t have many flowers around yet, but this skinny-looking male sat on our feeder that is hanging in the window and gulped our nectar. He continues to visit, as others report that “their” hummingbirds are arriving.
Midweek also brought in house wrens. A friend had just put up a new house in his yard “sanctuary” in Lynn and a house wren took it over the next day! There were reports from all over. I thought I heard its bubbly song in our neighborhood as they do spend the summer here.
Speaking of wrens, our Carolina wrens continue to visit their mealworm feeder and carry off food to their first brood. They have always opted for live worms, so we feed them out of a feeder that restricts larger birds, like starlings, from stealing them. I have seen the wrens give-in and desperately take dried worms if they run out of live ones.
We put out the dried mealworms for the bluebirds. The bluebirds gladly accept dried ones and stuff their beaks to carry them off to their nesting box in a neighbor’s box two doors down. We are hoping that they will bring their young ones around once they fledge, which shouldn’t be long.
Titmice also visit regularly for the dried mealworms and occasionally the nuthatch. Our robin comes often for the worms when there are no other birds around. I have even seen a blue jay partake of the dried worms when we don’t have peanuts on the railing for them. Interesting that the jay swallows one worm at a time and looks around to be sure no one notices. Peanuts, on the other hand, are swallowed five or ten at a time!
Rose-breasted grosbeaks have arrived at some locations this week as well. I haven’t seen them in our yard yet but the trays are stocked with sunflower. Both the stunning males and a number of females have been reported, so keep an eye out.
Wood thrush and ovenbirds have been seen, and heard, in wooded areas. More species of warblers are trickling in including black-throated blue, black-throated green, black & white, blue-winged, magnolia, and northern parula. Blue-headed and warbling vireos are also being seen.
Along the coast, more species of shorebirds are arriving and the marshes are filling up with loud and flashy willets. Killdeer are sitting on eggs already. Little blue herons and green herons have been seen in several locations.
As you read this, that low pressure system should be moving away, the weather turning warmer and the days ahead should be sunny with southwest winds to bring in more birds. May is the month that birders look forward to all year long. Do get out and enjoy the sights and song of spring at its best!