Taylor's Silver Lining

The ruby-throated hummingbirds arrived right on schedule this year, just like every other year. The same goes for the blue-gray gnatcatchers, fish crows, white-eyed vireos, northern rough-winged swallows, Northern parulas, Louisiana waterthrushes, and common yellowthroats. These are all among the earliest breeding birds to return to Mecklenburg County by late March. They may have even showed up a few days early what with all the effects of a winter that never really happened. I hope I can enjoy the rest of migration as it progresses.


Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Photo by Phil Fowler
This is a stressful time for everyone right now. For any folks who are not, they must have already been socially distancing for a long while. The arrivals in the past week reminded me that there is still some normalcy in our lives, and if you need a dose, nature can give it to you. In addition to the birds arriving, plants are leafing out and blooming on schedule, the frogs are calling, bees are buzzing...


Indigo Bunting
Photo by Lee Weber
I look forward to good news that will come with the arrivals of the special birds. Rose-breasted grosbeaks, the hands down favorite spring migrant, will start to filter in by mid-April and will peak around May first. Indigo buntings and blue grosbeaks will be here within the same time frame. American goldfinches have been here all winter, but numbers are higher now that they are headed north. The males are rapidly turning yellow during the journey. These are birds that will readily come to a stocked and maintained feeder.


American Goldfinch
Photo by John Ennis
With the increased daytime home time for the next 30 days, keep your feeders going and increase your watch time. You may be amazed at what shows up as migration advances into April. For grosbeaks, keep a supply of sunflower seed on hand, or at least a mix that is significantly laced with sunflower. Indigo buntings will take the same but will also seek out millet. Goldfinches like the black oil sunflower. Another yellow bird, the pine warbler will take shelled sunflower, but they really appreciate peanut flavored suet dough. New species will be arriving daily for the next month. This April may provide a unique opportunity for you to enjoy the show.