While the passage of Hurricane Matthew through the southeastern U.S. last weekend impacted birds in a number of ways, such as the possibility of the storm’s winds bringing rare or highly uncommon species to our area, the fall exodus of Neo-tropical migratory breeding birds from North America continues. Individuals of many species that breed far to our north will still be making their way into and through our area. Recent observations where I live include Swainson’s, veery and gray-cheeked thrushes, black-throated blue warbler, and a small flock of red-winged blackbirds. At least two ruby-throated hummingbirds were noted availing themselves of my feeders the day after the storm passed..
In addition to the migrants passing through or lingering in our area, some customary winter residents have begun to arrive. Northern flicker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, ruby-crowned kinglet, palm and yellow-rumped warblers have been noted. Folks father north and west of us are reporting red-breasted nuthatches, an unusual winter bird in our coastal area. The early arrival of these tiny visitors and the numbers being reported may indicate the potential of an influx of other winter species such as American goldfinch, pine siskin and purple finch for us this year.
Baltimore orioles are starting to show up at customary winter sites in our area. Among the items these wonderful birds are attracted to are hummingbird feeders, grape jelly, orange sections, sometimes suet, peanuts and mealworms. Orioles are also attracted to berries/fruits as well as flowers, esp. the blooms of single-flowered Camellia varieties.
A number of ruby-throated hummingbirds continue to be reported by various folks at flowers and feeders throughout our area. While we are at the tail-end of their fall migration, some of these tiny treasures will still be making their way onto and through our area throughout the end of this month. While most are merely passing through, there will be a number of ruby-throateds and members of some Western hummer species that will opt to spend winter here. Keeping a feeder up and maintained will not prevent the birds from continuing their migration, but can provide a tiny traveler with a much needed resource as it travels, especially in the wake of of a significant storm such as Matthew. Keeping hummer feeders maintained can benefit a number of other bird species, too. So keep your feeder clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water, and let me know of the hummingbird activity in your yard.