Bird Notes | Some Myrtle Beach-area birds wrap up seasonal duties, start south

Bird NotesJuly 16, 2014 

A young ruby-throated hummingbird keeps watch over the territory it has claimed.

BY GARY PHILLIPS — For The Sun News

As summer marches on, so do the seasonal reproductive efforts of our avian friends.

Many of our migratory breeding birds are close to finished with their seasonal duties and have already started or will soon start their southward treks to more tropical quarters for the winter. A few migrant shorebirds are beginning to show up on area beaches, while adults and offspring of many coastal nesting seabirds such as laughing gulls, royal, Sandwich, common and least terns fairly easily observed.

A pomarine jaeger was observed for several days recently at Sullivan’s Island near Charleston. While unusual for this seafaring bird to be found so near the immediate coast, it’s not unprecedented.

What is unusual is once the bird disappeared from the area it had been frequenting, it was subsequently discovered in a swimming pool on the island, where it was captured and taken to the medical clinic at the Center for Birds of Prey at Awendaw. The jaeger was reported to be in fairly good health with the exception of poor feather condition, and hopefully will recover and be released.

On a non-bird related trip to Murrells Inlet recently, I was happy to see a common nighthawk scouring the skies above U.S. 17 at dusk. Once a truly common species in the Myrtle Beach area, its decline in numbers (believed due primarily to loss of suitable nesting habitat) has made the nighthawk an uncommon bird in evening skies.

Amid the increase of juvenile songbirds at my feeders in Conway, the number of ruby-throated hummingbirds continues to slowly rise.

As more of these miniscule marvels leave the tiny nests that have been home in order to make their own way in the wide world beyond, they seek to avail themselves of every available resource in order to gain mass for their own impending southward journeys.

Along the way, they must learn how and where to find food and shelter, as well as becoming schooled in the finer points of hummingbird social graces, of which there are none.

When you see these tiny treasures engaged, chittering and twittering in pursuit of one another, it’s not a case of hummingbird fun and games. The pursuer is defending a territory it has claimed, and attempting to drive the pursued completely from the area. If you observe these amazing birds closely enough, you’ll find that not only other hummingbirds evoke their wrath, but nearly anything that moves.

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

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