The calendar shows that spring is still more than a week away, but I know I’m feeling it, and the birds are feeling it too. Courtship, mating, and nest building is already underway for some of our local bird species. During the last week of February, I witnessed a pair of Anna’s hummingbirds mating in my yard.
The ravens that nest each year in the large ponderosa pine tree in our yard have finished refurbishing their nest. I assume they are sitting on eggs, but there is no way to tell as the nest is near the very top of the tree and I can’t see into it.
In the past week I have seen flocks of American robins in our neighborhood, as well as cedar waxwings. One day, I managed to count over 100 robins from my yard! I see this flocking behavior as a sign of “staging” in preparation to migrate northward.
If you don’t yet have at least one hummingbird feeder out, I would encourage you to do so. With our temperatures here in the quad-city area getting up into the 70s this week, I am sure it will be getting up to the 90s in Phoenix. Under these conditions, large numbers of hummingbirds will start moving up into the high country to start establishing their territories.
I spent several hours this past Saturday doing some long-overdue yard work, and it was so enjoyable just being outside and listening to all of the birds singing. It was like a symphony of birds in sustained song for hours on end.
As we inch closer to spring, you may be wondering if you need to do anything different with your bird feeding routine. For many of our winter visitors, this is the time when they are tanking up in preparation for migration. Keep your seed and suet feeders well stocked with quality foods that will provide them with maximum fat and protein. Avoid seed blends with filler ingredients, as this provides little benefit to wild birds.
Another consideration is to think about what you are feeding in the way of seed, particularly if a lot of the seed ends up on the ground. With the wet winter we have had, once we start getting warm temperatures you could begin to experience an explosion of “weeds” in your bird-feeding area. I strongly encourage you to not use any pre-emergent chemicals or weed killers in your bird-feeding area. The risk to birds, particularly those that are rearing young, is too great.
It is still too early for orioles, but it is worth a reminder to get your oriole feeders out by April 1. The best way to entice orioles to stick around is to have fresh sugar water available to them when they show up in your yard. If they arrive and there is no food specifically for them, they will most likely move on. Rarely to do you get a second chance to keep the orioles around. In addition to sugar water, they love grape jelly and citrus.
Since our year-round resident bird species start nesting early, it is a good idea to consider providing either bird houses, nest-building material or both. Nesting material can be either store-bought, or home-grown, such as human and pet hair. Even dryer lint can be desirable to nesting birds. Keep in mind that if you choose to provide dryer lint, it is best if you are using natural or organic laundry detergent and fabric softener. Otherwise, there will be chemicals embedded in the lint, and that wouldn’t be healthy for the baby birds.
Until next week, Happy Birding!