Many returning migrant songbirds are still making their way into and through our area as this year’s edition of spring bird migration continues to be written.
Among the recent returnees are summer tanager, yellow-throated vireo, yellow-billed cuckoo, Northern rough-winged swallow, chuck-will’s-widow and common nighthawk. Indigo and painted buntings, blue grosbeak and rose-breasted grosbeak continue their spring journeys as well. Recently arrived Wilson’s plovers have been seen and photographed in their customary habitat at Huntington Beach State Park, while a few black-bellied, semipalmated and piping plovers, along with a mix of sandpiper species, continue to be observed.
Several folks have inquired lately about the “blackbirds” (grackles, cowbirds and red-wingeds) visiting their feeders, specifically how long they might stay and how to discourage them from emptying feeders daily. Any time you put out free food for wildlife, everything that can take advantage of it will take advantage of it. To discourage the unwanted visitors, merely stop filling the feeders for a while.
Once you remove the reason they’re visiting, the birds will eventually move elsewhere. This time of year, you won’t be working an undue hardship on the “regular” feeder birds, as they are busy with their reproductive chores, and most of our breeding birds are dependent on invertebrate and small vertebrate prey in order to raise their offspring. Recall the foods we supply are supplemental foods, and none of our birds can survive solely on what we provide.
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Our tiniest feathered friends, ruby-throated hummingbirds, continue their return into and through our area. While many have already arrived and set about their seasonal duties, more are yet to come before this spring’s hummingbird migration is finished, so don’t despair, those who have yet to find a hummer gracing your backyard feeder. While you wait, take stock of your backyard landscape and determine what you might do to increase its attractiveness to these miniscule marvels.
Plantings of hummingbird-favored plants — various plants with tubular-shaped blooms such as salvias, agastaches, coral honeysuckle, morning glories, etc., as well as shrubs and trees for cover to forage and perch in — will increase the odds a hummingbird will claim your yard as its own. Also keep in mind at least 50 percent of a ruby-throated hummingbird’s diet is comprised of tiny insect prey, so refrain from using any pesticides. Remember to keep your feeders 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 hummingbird shows up in your yard.
Reach GARY PHILLIPS at 248-4595 or firstname.lastname@example.org.