Bird Notes | Hurricane Arthur brought unusual birds up N.C. coast

Bird NotesJuly 8, 2014 

Painted buntings continue to visit feeders at Huntington Beach State Park’s Nature Center.

BY GARY PHILLIPS — For The Sun News

While the passage of tropical storms or hurricanes often leaves unusual seabirds in their wake, such was not the case with the passage of Arthur in the Myrtle Beach area last week.

However, a few miles up the coast at Wrightsville Beach, N.C., a Leach’s storm-petrel was serendipitously photographed and a sooty tern observed. Farther north, a magnificent frigatebird was observed at Beaufort, N.C., while a bridled tern was seen at Lake Mattamuskeet, N.C., a sooty tern at Nags Head, N.C., and a dead great shearwater at Topsail Beach, N.C.

Two roseate spoonbills were reported from Huntington Beach State Park on June 29. Other recent observations include osprey; great blue, little blue, tricolored and green herons; black-crowned night-heron; great, snowy and reddish egrets; white and glossy ibis; wood stork; least bittern; clapper rail; common gallinule; along with laughing and ring-billed gulls and least, royal and Sandwich terns.

Shorebirds reported include Wilson’s, semipalmated and black-bellied plovers. Two very early red-breasted mergansers were also reported from the park last week. Painted bunting males, females and immatures continue frequenting the park’s Nature Center feeders along with Eastern towhee, Northern cardinal, tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, brown thrasher, red-winged blackbird, common grackle and brown-headed cowbird.

Many of the more common backyard birds continue with their seasonal breeding duties.

Around feeders in Conway, house finch, Northern cardinal, blue jay, and downy and red-bellied woodpecker juveniles are being seen. Many folks have been happy to report recent fledging of more Eastern bluebirds from their nest boxes, while some report females continue to incubate eggs.

A few ruby-throated hummingbird juveniles are currently out and about the Myrtle Beach area, with many more to come over the next few weeks.

Currently, most activity at feeders occurs early and late in the day, with sporadic visits during the middle part of the day.

From mid-morning to late-afternoon is prime bug-hunting time for hummingbirds, and tiny arthropod prey is where these miniscule marvels derive protein and many fats to meet their dietary needs.

Remember to keep your feeders clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives. There is no red nectar in flowers, therefore there is no reason to introduce any into these tiny birds’ diet.

Research performed in the 1970s demonstrated when ruby-throated hummingbirds were presented with a choice of clear, red, blue, green or yellow sugar water, they preferred clear by a substantial margin and showed no statistically meaningful preference among the colored options.

Reach GARY PHILLIPS at 248-4595 or carolinensis@yahoo.com.

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