As is normally the case, in the aftermath of our most recent cold spell a number of uncommon birds have been found across the Carolinas.
A Western tanager and Western kingbirds have been observed in Charleston. The tanager was visiting jelly feeders in a backyard, while as many as two kingbirds have been observed at Patriot’s Point. A Western tanager has also been frequenting feeders in Southern Shores, N.C.
A sizable flock of horned larks was observed at the Wilmington, N.C., airport last week.
A yellow-headed blackbird was observed and photographed at Southport, N.C., on Jan. 31.
Closer to home, an American avocet was observed at Huntington Beach State Park on Jan. 30. A group of American white pelicans continues to frequent the park, and bald eagles continue to be easily sighted there as well.
Many folks in the area have been happy to report sightings of flocks, some sizable, of cedar waxwings over the past week. These beautiful, sleek berry bandits are nomadic winter visitors that wander about in search of berry laden shrubs and trees.
Often a flock will swoop into a berry source, devour as much as they can, then dart away, not to be seen again. Sometimes a group may remain in the immediate area until the food resource is exhausted.
Waxwings are fastidious bathers, and are frequently attracted to birdbaths where they bathe and drink en masse before darting away while making their distinctive thin, shrill calls.
During winter, waxwings are frequently observed in the company of American robins, as both are in search of the same resources, namely berries and fresh water.
A number of folks in the Myrtle Beach area feed Baltimore orioles in winter, and several have inquired as to how to attract these beautiful birds to their backyards.
As is the case with attracting most birds, creating appropriate habitat is the key. Orioles are parkland or forest birds, preferring to remain in the cover of a tree canopy as much as possible.
Their diet includes a fair amount of fruits/berries, which grape jelly is a substitute for. They also consume a fair amount of insects, especially insect larvae such as caterpillars, to meet their protein requirements.
Offering mealworms helps orioles (and many other species) to meet those needs in winter, especially during periods of unusually cold or inclement weather. Dried mealworms are readily available at a number of local sources and are much easier to handle in winter than live mealworms. Suet mixtures, especially those containing peanuts or peanut butter are often attractive to orioles (and many other birds) in winter.
Reach GARY PHILLIPS at 248-4595 or email@example.com.