Home & Garden

Bird Notes | Keep fresh water in birdbaths to help avian friends beat summer heat

A roseate spoonbill was sighted at Huntington Beach State Park on June 20.
A roseate spoonbill was sighted at Huntington Beach State Park on June 20. For The Sun News

As we move into the time of year when temperatures and heat indices start reaching their upward peaks for the year, here’s a reminder to keep your birdbaths clean and replenished with fresh water. While they don’t require tremendous amounts of water, clean, fresh water is essential to our feathered friends for both drinking and bathing.

A well-maintained water basin can be a feature in your yard that may attract even bird species that don’t normally visit bird feeders, and adding a dripper, mister or other such device can turn it into a veritable bird magnet. Many birds, such as different thrush species (robins, bluebirds, catbirds, etc.) bathe frequently, and all of the birds will use a quick dip to help them beat the heat on our warmer summer days.

The first report of a roseate spoonbill at Huntington Beach State Park that I’m aware of was made by Bob Maxwell on June 20. The bird was first noted as a flyover, then observed settling down at the edge of the grasses in the western end of Mullet Pond (the brackish pond alongside the causeway). A few wood storks also have been reported sporadically from the park of late. Spoonbills are also being reported from Bear Island Wildlife Management Area south of Charleston.

A scissor-tailed flycatcher was observed in Townville June 27. An unusual bird anywhere east of the Mississippi River, especially during breeding season, the scissor-tailed was noted perched near a pond in a pasture at Dobbins Farm.

A snowy plover has been observed for several weeks around Mason Inlet in southeastern North Carolina, and one was reported from Rich Inlet between Figure 8 and Hutaff islands on June 27. The snowy was in the company of three piping and several Wilson’s plovers. Wilson’s plovers may also currently be found in the north beach area near the jetty at Huntington Beach State Park.

Swallow-tailed and Mississippi kites continue to be reported from our area. While much more common than swallow-tailed, Mississippi kites are usually less often reported, perhaps because they don’t have as distinct of an appearance. However, this year it appears more Mississippi kites than usual are being seen. Regarding swallow-tailed kites, please remember to report any sighting you make to the web page at www.thecenterforbirdsofprey.org/swallowtail-kite.php.

Remember to keep your hummingbird feeders clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives, and let me know of the hummer activity in your yard.

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