As the daylight hours shorten, migrant songbirds continue to make their way into and through our area. A number of warbler species continue to be seen, including black-throated blue, Cape May, black-and-white, magnolia, Am. redstart, ovenbird and common yellowthroat. Red-eyed vireos remain daily visitors to beautyberry and pokeberry shrubs where I live, along with an occasional Catharus thrush species.
A sharp-eyed observer in North Myrtle Beach made a nice find last week when an ovenbird stopped by to take advantage of his backyard habitat. A warbler that spends much of its time on or near the ground, an ovenbird is a great bird to find anywhere, especially in one's own backyard.
A few reports have begun to trickle in of Baltimore orioles visiting hummingbird feeders in our area. The first of the season, an adult male, arrived recently and has been taking advantage of my feeders in Conway. Many of these wonderful birds spend winter in our area, and the number of those doing so appears to have been increasing over the past few years. Frequently attracted to hummingbird feeders, orioles are also quite fond of grape jelly, orange sections and sometimes suet. They're also fond of the blooms of Camellias and other flowers, as well as fruits of hollies and other berries. Many folks report these amazing birds also visit their backyard feeders for mealworms as well.
Several folks have been delighted to report ruby-throated hummingbirds continuing to avail themselves of backyard flowers and feeders in the area, with multiple birds present in many cases. While most of these tiny treasures will move on, some will elect to remain in our area throughout winter. Maintaining a hummer feeder in winter will not cause a bird to not migrate. Hummingbirds have been documented in winter along the SC coast for over 100 years (since 1909.) Another myth is the avian gems run the risk of freezing to death should they attempt to spend winter here. This is most assuredly not true. Over the past 15 years we have shown hummingbirds not only survive winter in our area, but even return to the same site to spend the following winter. One banded male ruby-throated wintered for 6 consecutive years at the same site in Murrells Inlet, and several other banded birds have returned for 2 or more consecutive years in our area and throughout the Southeast. In spite of their diminutive size, these are hardy birds and able to withstand whatever Nature throws at them, as long as they have access to appropriate food and shelter.