Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Local birds are now breeding
June 09, 2007
Steve Grinley

     Most of the migrating birds have moved through our area, so it is now the local breeding birds that are stealing the show in the bird world. At the top of the list is the new eaglet that was banded this past Wednesday from a nest in West Newbury. This is the same nest site that produced two offspring two years ago (aka Merry and Mack). The adult bald eagles returned to this site after being unsuccessful across the river in Haverhill during last year’s damaging spring rains. The 4-week-old eaglet weighed about 5.5 pounds, a pound or so heavier than the last two banded eaglets at a similar age. Being the sole mouth to feed for what the folks bring in probably explains the added heft.

     Dave Larson’s pictures of the banding may be seen at: http://www.larsonweb.org/eagles/WN-BAEA-2007.html. The adult eagles will continue to care for the young one in the nest for the next couple of months, after which the eaglet will, hopefully, take flight. We’ll look forward to another happy ending.

     Nests of red-tailed hawks and great blue herons have already been successful in the area. Piping plovers and least terns are nesting on the beaches of Plum Island, with enclosures built to help try to protect the nest from predators. The first cuddly little killdeer chicks have been observed along the refuge road, near Parking lots Two and Three. Ospreys have taken up residence on platforms on Plum Island and in Salisbury. First broods of bluebirds have fledged. One successful nesting was witnessed firsthand by a clever West Newbury resident who has a camera in her bluebird nest box. This is hooked directly to her TV where she can watch every step of the process. She said that it was a great way to do all her ironing! Many others are reporting successful bluebird broods, perhaps with some attributed to the number of mealworms that these birds are being fed!

     If you still have hummingbirds and orioles coming to your feeders, these are likely resident birds that are nesting in your area. I’ve had many people say that the orioles have abandoned their oranges or grape jelly and many of these birds may have moved further north to New Hampshire and Maine to nest. Local nesting orioles many continue to supplement their diet with nectar and jelly, but most of the parent birds will turn to insects. Insects provide the protein necessary for the young birds’ development, so the orioles concentrate on providing insects to their newly hatched offspring.. Still, I have customers that go through many jars of jelly and bags of oranges during the summer months. Catbirds, mockingbirds, and even robins will also feed on the grape jelly.

     Activity seems to have picked up at the thistle feeders lately as well. Goldfinches are competing for perches at the feeders as they build up their energy to prepare to nest. They nest in midsummer, usually in small trees or shrubs and not in bird houses. They wait that long so that there will be more natural seed around for the young once they fledge. Seeds from flowers and weeds become more plentiful toward the end of summer and early fall. Though some birds have had their first brood already, it is not too late to put up a bird house. Many of our local cavity nesters have two or sometimes three broods including bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and, of course, house sparrows. You might also catch some first time nesters that were either late arrivals or had trouble finding a mate. Sharing your yard with these birds and their offspring can add to your summer enjoyment.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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