Saturday, August 25, 2012

Hummingbirds Coming Through

Hummingbird feeder on my deck
I've seen hardly any hummingbirds this summer, until the last couple of weeks. Since then I've had regular visits by ruby-throated hummingbirds and black-chinned hummingbirds multiple times each day. Hummingbird migration is underway. If you got discouraged over the summer with the  lack of birds at your feeder, clean them up and try again. You'll probably get a hit. Although natural plantings are better, the lack of rain means that some of the best flowering plants for hummingbirds may not have a lot of blooms on them, so the extra nectar will be welcome.

See the feeder in the photo above? The wind chime behind it has little hummingbirds on it. They are about the same size as the hummingbirds that have been visiting the feeder.

How long should you leave your hummingbird feeders up? Although most of the birds will be gone by the end of September, I always leave my hummingbird feeder up until the end of October. There have been (rare) sightings of hummingbirds as late as December--but they are truly very isolated incidents.

Be sure to clean out your feeders and replace the nectar every couple of days. A little bit of water and sugar is not a lot of money and the health of your hummingbird visitors depends upon you.

Good birding!

Monday, August 20, 2012

This Week's Bird-Related Events

If you like to go out to eat, consider heading over to McAlister's Deli on Tuesday, August 21 between 5 PM and 10 PM. Wild Bird Rescue has a fundraiser that night. If you eat there during that time, 10% of your meal price will be donated to Wild Bird Rescue. This has been a really busy year, with record breaking numbers of birds coming in. In addition, the expansion of the education program and the addition of the raptor aviary have greatly increased food costs. So help out Wild Bird Rescue by eating a good meal.

The North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club will meet at 7PM on Tuesday as well, so eat at McAlister's and then head over to the NALC building, 5310 Southwest Parkway for the meeting. A nice group of birding folks.

Good birding!

Recent Sightings of Interest

I know I still haven't caught up with my travels and the birds seen, and at this point, probably won't because other birds are happening in our own area.

First, on August 14 there was a post on TEXBIRDS by Rick Folening in Holliday that he had spotted (and photographed) a black-bellied whistling duck at Sikes Lake. He took some really good pictures. Since he gave the link to the photos on TEXBIRDS, I am sharing the link here, so others can also see the bird. I had to go out of town, but on the 17th I went to Sikes Lake, and there it was. I have seen black-bellied whistling ducks in Wichita County before, but only once.  The checklist of the North Texas Bird and Wildlife Club shows a few isolated sightings over the summer, but indicates this is an accidental species for the area. I did not get any good pictures of the bird, just a picture of my foot the day after--I stepped in a bed of fire ants while I was looking through my binoculars at the duck. Typical. But at least I didn't almost step on a rattle snake while absorbed in a bird (it has happened.)

Fire ant bites--watch where you put your feet!
Second sighting of note was yesterday. I was working at Wild Bird Rescue and went out to see if any of our newly released Mississippi Kites were hanging about for backup feeding when I saw some large birds over Lake Wichita. They looked like white pelicans, but I was thinking it was too early. Never rely on your memory about when a bird should be in an area. I went again to check the bird club checklist and noted irregular sightings of white pelicans as early as August 3, before they become a fairly common sight in October. Anyway, there was a small flock of 8 birds on the lake. Right now, they should find it easy fishing with the lake being as low as it is. Both of the below pictures were taken with my cell phone on the peninsula that surrounds the cove behind Wild Bird Rescue. That mud flat is not usually there--it is normally covered with water.

The herons and egrets can stand in the water across the entire lake at that end. It is still a little too deep closer to the dam. It was nice to go out to the lake and see some mist from the recent rains. In spite of a couple of inches the last few days, runoff has been minimal--the ground is just too dry. We do have a chance for more rain this week, so perhaps we'll start seeing a little rise in the lake levels.

I did go out to Lake Buffalo on Saturday with some of my Texas Master Naturalist friends to do a mussel watch at Lake Gordon and Buffalo Creek Reservoir (Lake Buffalo.) They too, are way down. Lake Buffalo, especially. However, we did have an excellent morning for mussels. I also saw hundreds of egrets (great and snowy) at Lake Buffalo along with a group of 5 American avocets, a black-necked stilt and a spotted sandpiper.

Overall, some good birding for this time of year. Shorebird migration is in full swing, so get out and see what you can find.

Good birding!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A Swift Night Out

Anyone know of a chimney swift roost in the area? The annual Swift Night Out is approaching this weekend. This is an opportunity to contribute to our knowledge of these intriguing birds. The first Swift Night Out weekend is 10, 11, 12 August, followed by September 7, 8, 9 next month.

For a short history and instructions, see this link.

There is a chimney swift tower at Wild Bird Rescue, but unfortunately, it has never been used as a roost site. Maybe in future years.

If you know of an area roost, please post in the comments.

Good birding!

Bird Walk at Lake Arrowhead State Park

This Saturday, August 11, is the Bird Walk in the Park at Lake Arrowhead State Park. Generally, August is not the best month for birding, but shorebird migration has begun, and there have been some reports of early warblers south of us, so we could get lucky. The water level is still extremely low. With the drought, if there is water, there should be birds. Last month we had some peeps we couldn't identify--I will try to remember my spotting scope this month.

We will start at 7 AM at the firewood shed in the first camping area on the left after you enter the park. We usually wrap up around 9 AM, just as it is getting toasty warm. Be sure to bring drinking water.

There is a $3.00 entry fee to enter the park (unless you have a Park Pass.)

Good birding!