Here are the last two For the Birds columns, mostly focused on what readers have been seeing this spring.
If the past season was the Winter of the barred owl, this is the spring of the indigo bunting.
I’ve heard from numerous readers and friends throughout New England and even Canada about this bright blue bird visiting their backyards. The cause for excitement is obvious as it is one of our more colorful birds, flashing a brilliant blue plumage. The brilliance of the blue plumage is dependent upon the light.
It is also nice to hear that so many of these birds are around and delighting backyard birders in large numbers. Rose-breasted grosbeaks are another popular bird this spring. I’ve had limited luck with indigo buntings this spring, but for me, it’s been a banner year for rose-breasted grosbeaks. I’ve seen as many as three males in a tree overhanging my feeders. A female visits the feeders often as well.
It’s also been a good spring for warblers and nearly every walk last week yielded yellow warblers, common yellowthroats, black-and-white warblers, chestnut-sided warblers, American redstarts and yellow-rumped warblers.
I’m not the only birdwatcher enjoying a productive spring. Here’s what others have been seeing:
Lenny from Greenfield sent in photos of an indigo bunting and rose-breasted grosbeak at his feeder. He added a shot of a red-bellied woodpecker.
Susan from Jaffrey sent in some great shots of a yellow-rumped warbler perched on her deck near a feeder. Warblers do not typically visit feeders, but yellow-rumped and pine warblers are the occasional exception. Susan added that bluebirds, orioles, goldfinches and house finches are also using her feeders.
Elaine from Westmoreland had a busy week at her feeders with a pair of indigo buntings in addition to a rose-breasted grosbeak, goldfinches, a red-bellied woodpecker, orioles, blue jays, robins, cardinals and cowbirds.
Nancy from Swanzey also sent in a photo of an indigo bunting, a first-time visitor for her yard.
Leslie from Keene sent in a great photo of a rose-breasted grosbeak perched on her windowsill. Talk about up close and personal. She also has a pair of brown thrashers, which are around for the sixth year. Her other sightings include: Carolina wren, mockingbirds, yellow- bellied sapsuckers and red-bellied woodpeckers.
Many of the photos sent in by readers may be found on my website www.birdsofnewengland.com under the “Reader Submitted Photos” tab.
Carole of Chesterfield has been enjoying spring with sightings of Baltimore orioles, hummingbirds, goldfinches and her yard-first indigo bunting. She also noted a hawk that hangs out in her magnolia tree. The hawks show no interest in the feeder birds and the feeder birds show no fear of the hawk. So far anyway.
We still have a few weeks of spring migration remaining before the birds settle into nesting mode. Let me know what you’re seeing out there.
From the previous week …
Spring migration is in full swing.
I’ve had a pretty good season so far with several warbler and vireo species, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, gray catbirds, bobolinks, a few thrushes and a ruby-throated hummingbird pair.
So far, the indigo bunting has eluded me, but hopefully by the time this column has gone to print my luck will have changed on that front.
I’m not the only one who has been busy looking for birds this spring. Here’s a rundown of what some of our neighbors have been seeing …
Elena from Winchester has had both orchard and Baltimore orioles, as well as mockingbirds, northern flickers and wild turkeys. Earlier this spring, Elena played host to a flock of evening grosbeaks.
Jeannie from Marlow also had a sizable flock of evening grosbeaks, numbering more than 20 birds in all. It was a good winter for seeing those handsome yellow, black and white birds, and that seems to have trickled into spring. Jeannie also relayed a yard first for her as she saw three yellow-bellied sapsuckers on the same tree on her property.
Also, she reports, a male purple finch paid a surprise visit.
Same for Dick and Pat from Westmoreland. They report seeing four males and three females, commenting that “The contrast between purple finches and the house finches is dramatic. No question they are purple finches.”
Jane from Marlborough was one of many people from across New England who noticed a dearth of birds at her feeders this winter, but exclaimed “They’re baaack!” a few weeks ago. The sightings included visits from pine siskins, robins, bluebirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, goldfinches, purple finches, blue jays and cardinals.
Jane also mentioned an important tidbit regarding her husband giving the feeders a “good spring cleaning.” If you haven’t scrubbed your feeders lately, remember it’s important to do so, especially as the weather grows warmer.
Don’t make me submit that photo of a goldfinch with avian conjunctivitis again.
Finally, Baltimore orioles seemed to have been the bird of the week last week. Richard from the Monadnock Region had two male orioles at his suet feeder. Lida, also from the region, attracted five (three females and two males) orioles to her back deck with oranges. She sent a neat photo to document the sighting. I’ve never had a single oriole visit my offerings, let alone five at once. I’ve tried oranges, suet, grape jelly — but nothing.
Spring migration is fleeting; don’t miss out.
And, keep reports of the sightings coming.