If you haven’t freshened up, or put up, your hummingbird feeders yet then you are LATE! As I predicted last week, there has been a smattering of ruby-throated hummingbird reports as of this writing.
April second has been the date in recent years when the numbers of returning birds spike. So if you want to get in on the action you had better get the feeder up today.
Birds you will see right now will almost invariably be adult males. They arrive and pass through a couple of weeks before the females follow. And most of the birds will just be passing through. After an initial rush you may notice a lull in sightings as the hummers continue their flight north.
I have had several folks mention to me how they have noticed how vocal birds have been in the early morning. This is a real thing and it has a name; the dawn chorus.
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Well before dawn American robins, Carolina wrens, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, Eastern bluebirds, Northern cardinals, Northern mockingbirds, brown thrashers, and song sparrows all wake up and begin singing.
Then, just after sunrise the chorus dies down as the birds begin foraging for breakfast. As more local breeders return in the coming weeks they will add to the din. By mid-May it will be even more impressive in volume and diversity than it is right now. My favorite time of the birding day is a springtime dawn in rural farmland where the songs carry far through the open landscape.
Many of your winter feeder regulars will start to disappear over the next few weeks. I have already noticed a decrease in the dark-eyed juncos at my place, yet I encourage you to leave the feeders stocked with at least sunflower seed for the next month or so.
Rose-breasted grosbeaks will start to pass through in mid-April with a peak around May first, and they love to sunflower seed. If you have been lucky enough to attract the spectacular males in the past, then you know what I am talking about. You also have a good chance of attracting indigo buntings and blue grosbeaks too.
Let me know when you see the first ruby-throated hummingbirds at your feeders, and keep me posted on other new arrivals too.
Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com. Check out his blog at piedmontbirding.blogspot.com