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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Around the backyard, late May edition

Things have settled down considerably in the backyard since the last of the orioles passed through a few weeks ago. The pace of migration has slowed. Fewer and fewer new voices are being heard.

One new voice that I heard over the past weekend was that of the "Rain Crow" - the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. I heard it calling from somewhere on my street on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately, the call did not, as the old folk tale implied, announce the coming of rain. At least not yet. Nevertheless, it is a voice that is always welcome.

Another newcomer over the weekend was the Mississippi Kite. I saw one of the birds circling over the yard on Saturday. They and the Swallow-tailed Kites have become more and more common in this area over the last few years.

I said the orioles had passed through the area, and, indeed, the Baltimore Orioles have, but the Orchard Orioles are still here. I hear them singing around the neighborhood throughout the day. They do nest here.

Most of the excitement in the backyard avian community these days is supplied by the fledgling birds that are daily joining that community. Just over the past week, I have seen young American Robins, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmice, House Sparrows (sigh), Northern Cardinals, and Downy Woodpeckers taking their first flights. These are in addition to the young Carolina Chickadees and Carolina Wrens that were already making themselves at home in the yard. And now the second brood of fledgling Eastern Bluebirds have left the nest.

The young ones, all five of them, took their first flight in the early morning hours today and, boy, did they leave a mess behind! This is how the outside of their home looks. I won't show you the inside. It is even more disgusting. Most bluebird parents that I have encountered in the past have managed to keep their nests pretty neat, but evidently, this pair did not get the memo about cleanliness. They left the box just as messy after their first brood, too.

Although the voracious winter visitors have left and there are fewer migrants coming through now, the pressure on the feeders continues. Many of the permanent resident birds bring their fledglings to the feeders. The Red-bellied Woodpecker papa has two young ones that he takes to the suet cakes several times a day. Mr. Downy Woodpecker has one baby (that I've seen) that he has been showing the ropes around the feeders. But it's not just the young birds that are devouring my food. The large flock of White-winged Doves that frequents the yard has yet to disperse and recently several Common Grackles (10 - 15) have joined the queue. This, of course, is in addition to all the other usual suspects.

Meanwhile, on the hummingbird news front, for several days I thought all the hummingbirds had moved on. I was wrong. The female Ruby-throated Hummingbird is still here and I'm guessing that she is nesting somewhere in the yard. She's not as active as she was and I imagine that's because she's spending most of her time on the nest, but I do see her at the feeders several times during the day.  

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