A few weeks ago I asked for reports and photos from readers about birds nesting in unconventional spots. I received more than 50 responses, most with interesting photos. As expected, the Carolina wren seems to be the species most likely to move in on our territory and set up housekeeping. Nest sites ranged from flower baskets to baseball gloves on garage shelves.
I also received lots of photos of Eastern phoebe nests on ledges in carports and under porches. A few barn swallows were reported using the same types of sites.
House finches chose some ledges but really prefer front door hanging ornaments such as wreaths, along with hanging plants.
One reader was able to document a Northern mockingbird nest with chicks in a window feeder. I have never heard of that species utilizing an artificial nest site, and it was a complete surprise to me. It was yet another example of my learning something from my readers.
As we enter into full summertime conditions, you may notice some birds in your yard or at your feeders that appear to have lost their head feathering. This is exactly what has happened. The condition seems to be most prevalent in Northern cardinals, but may be seen in common grackles, Eastern towhees, and blue jays. The causes are not totally understood, but apparently the affected birds are none the worse for the brief time they are bald. It may even make the heat more bearable for them.
After an absence of a couple of months, I have a hummingbird regularly coming to my feeder. I often get inquiries about the perceived lack of hummingbirds this time of year and the response is: Be patient. Young birds are getting fledged now and some birds may be moving into our area from the North as early as the next month or so as they begin moving south. Keep the feeders up and fresh, and you will start to see activity in due time.
Hot weather puts birds and birders into the doldrums, but in the next few weeks some subtle changes in habits and movements of our local birds may become evident. I’ll talk about some things to look for next week.