The calendar may say spring starts March 20, but the appearance of fish crows in Conway, along with a couple of sizable flocks of common grackles visiting for a few days, shows that spring is here, and the annual northward migration of birds has begun.
Very soon the first purple martins will start to appear in the Myrtle Beach area. Some will be merely passing through on their way to more northern breeding areas, others will be the earliest of their respective groups to return to previous years’ breeding sites.
Eastern bluebirds are well into their house hunting for the coming breeding season. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to clean out your bird boxes and make any necessary repairs.
Note that it is entirely unnecessary to paint a bird house (or bird feeders, for that matter.) Untreated, unpainted wood is preferable for any surfaces birds may come in contact with. If you feel you must paint any such structures, be certain to use a paint clearly labeled as non-toxic.
The end of February and early March is the time of year the first warblers start to arrive in our area. Yellow-throated and Northern parula warblers are our earliest returning breeding warblers and the first returnees are normally found in or near forested wetlands. These tiny treasures show a preference for building their nests within clumps of Spanish moss, and will also forage in the same searching for insects and insect larvae that may be located therein.
The earliest of our tiniest feathered friends, male ruby-throated hummingbirds, will be arriving on the Gulf Coast this week. The first of those returnees will start to reach our area around mid-March.
While some of these will be our summer residents, others will be passing through on their way to more northern breeding areas. If you haven’t maintained a hummingbird feeder through the winter, now is the time to get it cleaned up and placed into service.
Often folks will say they wait until they see the first hummer before deploying their feeder, which begs the question of how many may have passed through that didn’t stop (or weren’t detected) because there was no feeder present.
For the earliest-arriving hummers a feeder is a welcome and necessary feature, as we may experience some colder days and nights when hunting for tiny insect prey isn’t as productive. Remember to keep your feeder clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives, and let me know when the first male ruby-throated shows up in your yard.
Reach GARY PHILLIPS at 248-4595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.