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Bird Notes | Breeding season brings adults, offspring to area yards

Ruby-throated hummingbirds will soon fledge their first young of the year.
Ruby-throated hummingbirds will soon fledge their first young of the year. For The Sun News

The bird breeding season is currently in full swing in our area.

Backyard bird feeders can provide an opportunity to view adults and offspring of many species, their behaviors and (at the risk of anthropomorphism) some universal trials of parenthood. For example, if one observes a pair of Carolina wrens (or numerous other species) with a handful of youngsters in tow, as they attempt to feed their growing offspring, keep them safe from harm and at the same time teach skills necessary for survival, even the most casual observer can make analogies to our own species’ efforts.

While the foods we offer birds are primarily supplemental, keeping feeders continually stocked provides a helping hand year-round for our avian friends, and as the youngsters learn where they can find a quick snack, they will become regular patrons of your backyard offerings. Enhance your landscape with plantings of shrubs and trees that provide shelter as well as fruits/berries, and maintain a source of clean, fresh water, and you can transform your own backyard into a mini-refuge with habitat attractive to numerous birds and other wildlife species.

As the breeding season peaks, this is the time to see many of our Neotropical migratory breeding birds before they finish their seasonal duties here and begin to make their way back to more tropical climes for the winter. Birds are most active early in the day. Most species start to sing before dawn, as is evidenced by what’s termed the “dawn chorus.” As the sun rises, they become engaged in foraging and feeding activities. During the middle part of the day, and especially when temps are high, most birds seek a sheltered spot in which to beat the heat, becoming more active later in the afternoon and until shortly before dark.

A reliable source of freshwater is essential to birds, both for drinking and bathing. During periods of higher temperatures, birds will often bathe to help cool down as well as to perform their normal feather maintenance. A water source located near cover, such as a tree or large shrub, and equipped with a mister or dripper feature can be a magnet for birds, often drawing in species not normally attracted to backyard feeders.

Our tiniest feathered friends, ruby-throated hummingbirds, are well into their reproductive efforts, and the first offspring of the year should start appearing at flowers and feeders very soon. Remember to keep your feeders clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives, and enjoy the antics of these most amazing aves.

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