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Look for exotic visitors at your bird feeders

In the next few days, many folks who have continued to feed birds are likely to see an exciting new arrival. Some of you may have already seen it. I’m talking about the rose-breasted grosbeaks. The smartly dressed males often elicit a gasp of astonishment from the feeder host when seen for the first time. If you have taken your sunflower feeder down, there is still time to get it back up for a chance to attract some of these magnificent birds.

You will know them when you see them. The plumage is a striking combination of black and white, but what really sets them off is the brilliant rose triangle in the center of the breast. Savor the moment; they won’t be around more than a few days to a couple of weeks. They are merely stopping off for a snack before continuing their flight northward to their breeding grounds.

The rose-breasted grosbeak is just one of the primary stars of the spring migration. Scarlet tanagers, summer tanagers, Baltimore orioles, blue grosbeaks, indigo buntings, and a whole host of colorful warblers are out there now. Any park, greenway, or backyard with trees can be a stopover for them, but head to Dilworth’s Latta Park if you really want to see this spring show. For the next two weeks it will not be unusual to see one to several dozen birders a day there, especially on the weekends.

Latta Park is a unique venue. Tall trees, low thickets, and a running creek all combine to attract a large diversity of birds. The water pulls the treetop warblers down to eye level for leisurely views. The walking is easy and the birding great. Activity should peak around May 4.

Get there by 9 a.m. or even later. You don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn for migrants. They get up late after a long night of winging northward. Bird by yourself or latch onto other birders to form a group. More eyes see more birds.

Just don’t miss out on the show. It only happens once a year.

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