Saturday, June 11, 2016

May is for Birding

Yes I know, I disappeared for the entire month of May. And here I was doing so well with this blog! But May is the height of spring migration around here, which means birds, birds, birds. There is nothing I like better than slogging through muddy woods in early spring, looking at birds. I was out there every day, in all sorts of weather, watching springtime creep slowly over the landscape and looking at birds. I live along the southern shore of Lake Ontario, which is a great spot to see birds during spring migration. They stop right here to rest and refuel before heading out over the lake, so we get to see a lot of them!

We had a slow, cold start to the season and never did get the southerly winds that usually bring the migrants in; just lots of north winds off the lake. They came anyway, out of order and in odd combinations, but they came. I'm a new birder, and I’ve seen 123 species so far this year, including 24 species of warbler, all within a 30-minute drive from my house! I was also fortunate to be out at the hawk watch on a 10,000-bird day. That was pretty spectacular (although they usually have a couple of 30,000-bird days per season, which I find unimaginable).
Actually, I don't have to go far at all to see a lot of birds. For a few weeks every May, the trees in my yard are filled with warblers. This year I’ve had black-throated blue, black-throated green, black-and-white, Blackburnian, northern parula, chestnut-sided, bay-breasted, yellow-rumped, palm, pine, Nashville and Tennessee warblers in my trees, feasting on insects and singing their distinctive songs. I had a Blackburnian warbler drinking from my birdbath!
Now it's June. Summer is upon us and migration is over. The trees are in full leaf and it's harder to see the birds. But they're still there. You can hear them; if you pay attention, you can see them. Birds are everywhere, busily gathering food to feed their young; busily preparing the next generation for the long flight south. I'm planning to make my list a whole lot longer before the month is out.

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