Migration for birds occurs throughout the year. Somewhere in North America, birds are moving every month. Different groups of birds follow different schedules, so sometimes the movements are subtle to the casual observer.
June is perhaps the most stable month for local birds. Species that nest here have already arrived and are well into the reproductive process; some may be into a second or third nesting. Neotropical migrants, which travel long distances to get here, may only get one shot at a successful nesting. Many of these species are feeding young still in the nest. The parents are preparing their offspring for the fall journey south that many of them will undertake. Singing has slowed down. Time and energy are better spent feeding chicks than defending territories against members of their own species.
I walked through a cemetery on Lawyer’s Road this week and found many family groups of birds. Before I got out of my car, I watched Eastern bluebirds feeding young on a dead snag, and young house finches flying after adults, begging all the while.
After parking, I immediately heard the treetop call of a great-crested flycatcher and watched the adult catch an insect for its begging chick nearby. Two juvenile blue grosbeaks flushed from a weedy patch while the parents nervously flitted about. Another dead snag held a young Northern flicker, patiently waiting for someone to come feed it. The wavering calls of begging blue jays came from some nearby woods. An adult killdeer, one of only two shorebirds that nests here, made a few nervous calls as three almost fully grown young foraged in the short-grass lawn.
I enjoy the slow pace of birding in June. There is still plenty to see, but the urgency of looking for rarities in spring and fall is not present now. I spend more time observing bird behaviors than looking for wide diversity. That will change soon enough with the first cooler weather fronts of late August.