We are entering a time in the birding calendar when birds are beginning to move again. June was a time of relative stability for most local bird populations. June was a time to stay home and tend to parental responsibilities. By and large those are taken care of now and a period of short distance wandering is underway prior to the big push that will occur in a month or so.
Many readers expressed concern over a perceived lack of hummingbirds earlier in the year. I think many folks were remembering the frenzy of activity at feeders that does not occur until July and August. I have already heard from many hummingbird hosts that an uptick in numbers is already being seen. Adult males are moving south from more northern breeding grounds. Locally hatched young are now fledged and are moving around seeking food sources to add body weight for true migration. I expect the number of birds at feeders will continue to increase for some weeks.
Another yearly occurrence is the influx of large wading birds into the Piedmont of the Carolinas. Often these will be juveniles of great egrets, snowy egrets, little blue herons, cattle egrets and white ibis. There is even the possibility that wood storks and roseate spoonbills could make appearances.
These are all sizable birds and will be generally conspicuous if they visit your neighborhood. Look for them around the edges of lakes, ponds and marshy wetland areas. The egrets and immature little blue herons will be white, making them easy to spot. Size and a combination of bill, leg and foot colors will give you the information you need to make the right identification. All of the common field guides can be reliably used to aid you should you need consultation. Most of these birds will be relatively easy to approach, so photographs can be gotten as well. Send me the images, and I can help you identify them too.
Taylor Piephoff is a local naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com.
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