Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Rainy Tuesday

There isn't much to report today. The House Sparrows have just consumed the last of our bird seed, so that's it until fall, probably. The Mourning Doves and Brown-headed Cowbirds appreciate the seeds scattered by the sparrows, but there is abundant natural food at this time of year, so no worries there.

We are trying to attract a Ruby-throated Hummingbird with this sugar-water feeder. Our birding efforts here at West Campus caught the attention of a post-doctoral student at Yale who wants to do some high-speed photography of the local hummingbirds. He asked me to put up a feeder to see if any were around.

Chris Clark has done research in California on the Anna's Hummingbird, and was curious to learn whether the Ruby-throated Hummingbird also produced a mechanical sound in its aerial displays. He handed me a feeder, saying - if they're around, they'll come.

Right now Chris is at Big Bend National Park in Texas, studying a few of the local hummingbirds there. When he returns in a few weeks, hopefully we'll be able to report that we have hummers here too. The feeder has been up two weeks now, with no sightings yet. Everyone in the building is keeping an eye out!

Yesterday morning we had three new warblers!!
Black-throated Blue Warbler, Dendroica caerulescens
Magnolia Warbler, Dendroica magnolia
American Redstart, Setophaga ruticilla

All three were in the tree-tops in the parking lot first thing in the morning. This isn't much of a habitat, but it apparently met their needs. Hungry birds need to refuel with huge amounts of tiny caterpillars and insects before continuing on their northward flight.

This past weekend was another amazing one for birders in New England. Last Thursday a weather system came through, pushing a wave of migrants along with it. This radar site is showing rain over Connecticut right now (Tuesday afternoon), but on a clear night if there are spots of color on the radar -- it could be migrating birds!

Friday morning people were reporting huge numbers of warblers in such local birding hotspots as East Rock Park in New Haven. Huge numbers - I guess it's a relative term - a group saw 21 different species. Twenty-one different species of warbler. You remember those long winter months when we couldn't even report twenty species of birds in a day!

okay, enough enthusing for now
get out and enjoy the green

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