Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Local Birds Are Busy Nesting
June 13, 2020
The bird world is quieter in June with most of the migrating birds having moved through our area. The resident birds that settling down to nest, with some already on their second brood. Bird song is less as birds have mostly attracted their mates by now and are quietly going about their business of nest building, incubating, and feeding their young.
Piping plovers and least terns are nesting on the beaches of Plum Island, many in cordoned off areas and some with enclosures to help try to protect the nest from predators. The first killdeer chicks have been observed along the refuge road. Ospreys have taken up residence on platforms on Plum Island and in Salisbury with many birds sitting on eggs now.
Folks are reporting successful bluebird broods, with some successes attributed to the number of mealworms that these birds are being fed! Our Carolina wrens are on their second brood. They have already brought one or two fledglings to our mealworm feeder, and they are now back in the mode of visiting our mealworm feeder and carrying worms to their second nest of hatchlings.
Other than our mealworms, activity has slowed at our feeders. Our woodpeckers are still visiting our suet regularly and they also can be seen carrying chunks of suet off to feed young. But our mixed seed feeders have seen fewer visitors in recent weeks.
If you still have hummingbirds and orioles coming to your feeders, these are likely resident birds that are nesting in your area. I have had many people say that the orioles have abandoned their oranges or grape jelly, and fewer are visiting our jelly feeders at home. Many orioles 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 prefer to provide insects to their newly hatched offspring. They may later bring the young birds to your jelly or oranges as a supplemental source of energy. I have customers that still 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.
Though there are fewer finches at our feeders this month, the ones that are still around continue to eat well at the sunflower and finch feeders. The goldfinches are still 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 a bit longer in the season to nest when 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 in 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, woodpeckers. You might also catch some nesters that were either late arrivals, had trouble finding a mate, or had a first nest failure. Sharing your yard with nesting birds and their offspring can add enjoyment to your summer.