Accompanying our warm spring days are the vanguard of Neo-tropical migratory birds eager to make their way back to customary breeding areas and claim territories for the upcoming season.
Among returning species observed recently are yellow-throated, Northern parula, and Louisiana waterthrush warblers, blue-gray gnatcatcher, and purple martin. Right on time, a few folks from Pawleys Island to Calabash have reported the arrival of male ruby-throated hummingbirds in sparkling fresh spring plumage, while some of the hummingbirds that have wintered here remain on site. Those winter birds will not remain much longer, and will be replaced by birds that have wintered farther south of us. These tiny birds have amazing memories, and recall the exact spots where feeders they took advantage of were located last year. If you haven’t yet put out your hummingbird feeder, now is a good time to do so, not only for the returning birds that claimed your yard last breeding season, but also for the tiny travelers that may stop off to refuel on their northward treks.
Remember to keep your feeder clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives, and let me know when the hummingbird returns to your backyard.
As migrants return, many uncommon winter species remain throughout our area. From the Murrells Inlet jetty at the north end of Huntington Beach State Park last week, long-tailed duck, razorbill and common eider were observed. A red-breasted nuthatch was reported at the feeders adjacent to the park’s Nature Center. Migrating shorebirds can currently be seen stopping off in the park on the beach, around the tidal pools near the base of the jetty, and in the saltmarsh adjacent to the causeway.
A diverse group of wading birds including herons, egrets and ibis can be seen in the causeway area.
Many winter songbirds continue in the area, visiting backyard feeders and shrubs with remaining fruits/berries. A small flock of cedar waxwings has visited a Savannah holly frequently where I live in Conway lately, as has a small group of American robins. A hermit thrush is visiting daily for dried mealworms and a few holly berries. Flocks of yellow-rumped warblers, most in advancing stages of molt into breeding plumage, are fairly ubiquitous. White-throated, chipping and dark-eyed junco sparrows continue to avail themselves of our offerings, and a number of Baltimore orioles remain on site as they take advantage of grape jelly, dried mealworms, peanuts and sugar water from hummingbird feeders.