Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Fledgling Birds Entertaining Birders This Season
June 30, 2012
By Steve Grinley

     With summer here, birding has quieted to watching the resident birds raise their new offspring. Our orioles have shown the youngsters where to find the jelly at our store feeders. Now they have become regular visitors as well. Between the orioles and the catbirds, we are going through a couple of two pound jars of jelly a week.

     A Rowley resident told about young red-tailed hawk that was vocalizing all day in her neighborhood. A Byfield customer reports that she now has three pairs of rose-breasted grosbeaks at her feeders plus all their offspring. Just a few weeks ago she was concerned that her grosbeaks were a no-show this year. Now she is feeding more than a dozen birds!

     Many folks are telling me about second and, sometimes a third brood that their robins and bluebirds are enjoying due to the good weather. We have seen fledgling robins hopping around our parking lot and our house sparrow population, unfortunately, continues to increase.

     The heatwave that we experienced 10 days ago, and the return of 90 degree weather this weekend has had all the birds seeking water. Our robins, orioles, catbirds, house finches and others are enjoying the birdbath at the store. We need to keep fresh water in it every day in this weather.

     Piping plover are back on nests on Plum Island after the storm that had washed out many first attempts. Hopefully the least terns will do the same. Doug Chickering of Groveland found more nesting activity on Plum Island last week, as well as the first greenheads of the season:

     “Of course I don’t need to tell anyone about the recent heat wave. Today when Lois and I awoke it was raining lightly and the worst of the heat was pretty much over. We calculated that Plum island wouldn’t be over run with beach weasels; at least not until the sun came out and the rain would eliminate the clouds of dust on the south part of the road, so we headed down.

     “It’s not like we didn’t bird during the heat wave, for we did. We are birders after all and not ones to languish in the shelter of an air conditioned house when we could bird from the more demanding environment of an air conditioned car. During those dog days we birded mostly around our area and were not surprised to find things in a rather languid, subdued state. That isn’t to say that the days didn’t have their nice moments, they did. A birding trip almost always produces something – something that makes the trip worth it.

     “On Thursday we saw two Cattle Egrets standing on the paddock fence at the horse farm, on Route 133, Ipswich; just south of where we usually find them at the cattle farm. Yesterday we started the day seeing the Common Gallinule at the Center Street Swamp. On Wednesday we had a Turkey chick feeding with its mother at our feeders. It’s the smallest and youngest poult I can remember seeing. 

     “Today we headed for the island. Cloudy and cooler, it was evident that many of the birds are off nest. The Willets have been active since they arrived but today they were calling and whirling around in groups of five and six. When we stopped at Parking lot#2 to search for Saltmarsh Sparrows we found it exceptionally active, with birds perched and flying. At one point I had seven in one scope view. I also noticed that every time a Saltmarsh Sparrow skittered over the marsh grass a second sparrow rose up to follow in pursuit. Now I’m no expert on these things but it seemed to me that it was young following the adult.

     “This was also true with the Bobolinks along the way. There are a lot of Bobolinks on Plum Island. It wasn’t a day of rarities or even particularly uncommon sightings, but the place was jumping and that was nice. We also had our first (gasp) Greenhead, clinging to the outside of the driver’s side window. We’re on the verge of July so maybe along with the biting flies we can find a few dispersal rarities, and it will be the start of the return migration.”

     Yes, the shorebird migration begins in the coming weeks, but for now, we can enjoy the nesting birds and their fledglings that entertain us.

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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