For the Birds

By , May 14, 2013

We have positively identified our hummingbird feeder raiders as Wilson’s warblers. The two that had been hanging around our dooryard are immature and/or female. A male joined them a day or two later, confirming our guess. [WRONG! I discovered My 20th that, while the male is a Wilson’s warbler, the other two birds hanging around are the Alaska variety of yellow warbler.]

These are fairly familiar birds here, although we don’t think we’ve ever seen a male before. A bird with so much bright yellow plumage, and its rather outlandish black cap, makes it stand out. One would think we’d remember such a sight.

Through study, we’ve learned a few things that help make sense of what’s going on. While these warblers feed mostly on insects, they also drink nectar, which explains their behavior around the birch suckers, and the hummingbird feeders.

The dooryard has become quite the bird circus, especially in the evenings. Our Wilson’s and yellow warblers have been joined by one of my favorite locals, the Townsend’s warbler, a striking bird with a yellow head and black eye mask. Swainson’s and hermit thrushes are running around the yard and rhubarb patch. The shy little hermits make their plaintive, piercing little flight call when they’re in the yard, as if overwhelmed by the crowds. “Our” winter wren, who lives under the cabin, seems dwarfed by them all. Then there are several types of sparrows, the ruby crowned kinglets, chickadees, juncos, and dozens of others. And, mobbing around everyone, the hummingbirds create living storms each evening as they crowd around the feeders, fighting for territory, squeaking and jabbering at each other and anyone who gets in their way.

Beyond the windbreak, the usual ravens and eagles have been joined by a northern harrier that patrols the beach, probably from its nesting area over on Mud Bay.

Summer’s here . . . for the birds, at least.

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