Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Yellow-rumped Warbler update

Sorry that there really isn't much bird news to report, so I'll just ramble on a bit. I have the day off, so later today I might go to either Pheasant Branch Conservancy or Nine Springs. Perhaps I'll have more to share later. On the other hand, I'm getting between 15 and 20 backyard bird species daily - makes me want to stay home and watch them instead.

We got a few more inches of fresh snow, but it's quickly melting as the temperatures have been above freezing the past few days. Late afternoon before the snowstorm, our feeders were like Grand Central Station - hundreds of birds stocking up in preparation for the impending foul weather, or so it seemed to me. Yeah, they know.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler is still here, behaving pretty much in the same manner as mentioned in earlier posts. One day last week, when it warmed up, there must have been some insects present because both it and a few Cedar Waxwings were sallying near the top of the maple tree for them.

I'm beginning to get the feeling the warbler may soon depart. It has started to fly around a lot more, sometimes doing laps around the neighboring yards, chipping all the way, but always returning to perch near our suet feeders. Maybe it's because of the warmer weather, or perhaps its innate and keen migration senses recognize that the sun is getting higher in the sky.

The Red-breasted Nuthatches and Dark-eyed Juncos usually depart around late April, and I expect the Yellow-rumped Warbler will be somewhere in the boreal forest by that time. But most of the other backyard birds will stick around. Though I'll miss these birds, there will be new guests arriving shortly thereafter to take their place, like Fox Sparrows (a favorite). Before we know it we'll be in May and that is a grand time for bird watching.

I'm giving a talk on backyard bird watching next week and I wanted to provide a list of how many species I've seen in, or from our yard. I haven't actually keep a list written down so I had to go mostly from memory, but I tallied 87 species. Among the oddest or most exciting have been Green Herons perched atop our maple tree; a Rough-legged Hawk perched on the telephone pole in the back; a Blackpoll Warbler foraging in the maple and this Harris's Sparrow:

I have a neighbor who isn't too thrilled about our maple tree and the "mess" it makes, often quite vocal with her hope that a storm will knock it down one day, or that we should cut it down. Yeah, I guess it's a "trash tree" by some standards and it is high-maintenance when it comes to cleaning the samara out of the gutters and raking all those leaves. But I don't mind. Our maple tree is such a bird magnet and the Yellow-rumped warbler has been using its sap to help keep it alive through the winter. The line of white spruce trees at the end of our backyard attract and provide cover for birds, too, but there's no way I'll ever cut down that maple tree.

All images © 2006 Mike McDowell

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