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Bird Notes | Great bird sightings afoot this spring

Ruby-throated hummingbirds continue to arrive and claim territories for the season.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds continue to arrive and claim territories for the season. For The Sun News

Spring bird activity is all around us, with migrants still making their way into and through our area, and breeding birds fledging offspring.

Several folks have been happy to report rose-breasted grosbeaks continuing to stop off on their northward treks to visit backyard feeders. A few folks have been so fortunate as to find a painted bunting taking advantage of their seed offerings, along with blue grosbeaks and indigo buntings.

While there are no guarantees that anyone will attract any of these species, having appropriate food available does help increase the chances that one or more may pay a visit to your backyard. Both painted and indigo buntings are fond of white proso millet and will eat shelled sunflower seeds. Blue grosbeaks also are fond of millet, as well as black oil sunflower seed, and rose-breasted grosbeaks are primarily attracted to black oil sunflower.

Some great birds for the Carolinas have been reported recently. On May 12, an Arctic tern was observed and photographed at Lake Waccamaw, N.C. Well off its normal migratory path, the bird was presumably blown off course by subtropical storm Ana. A magnificent frigatebird was reported May 13 from Seabrook Island. One also was observed May 10 at Beaufort, N.C., and yet another at Wrightsville Beach, N.C., on May 9.

Scissor-tailed flycatcher has returned to a farm in the upstate of South Carolina near Piedmont. A highly unusual breeding bird east of the Mississippi River, the flycatchers have nested annually for the past few years there. The first bird was observed on May 1, and there have been several sightings since.

Ruby-throated hummingbirds are still arriving in our area, although the bulk of our breeding birds are already in place and well under way with their seasonal duties. Keep your feeder clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives.

To avoid spoilage during our summer season, the feeder should be cleaned and contents replaced in three to five days (under extreme conditions, the contents can begin to ferment in a day’s time.) It’s a good idea to periodically sanitize the feeder when cleaning it. A 10 percent bleach solution (approximately 3 ounces of bleach in 32 ounces of water) will help remove any microbial growth that may be found in nooks and crannies, difficult to reach with just a brush or sponge. Rinse the feeder well with water until no scent of bleach remains.

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