Friday, May 8, 2015

May Yard Birds: Week 1

It's May! So many different birds are moving in and passing through right now, many of them with amazing colors and costumes that are wonderfully offset by the just-emerging leaves on the trees. My goal is to post weekly digests to keep up with the constant avian parade in our yard this month. There's so much going on! And with that, here are some new arrivals (and some familiar creatures) from the past week.

Pretty much as soon as the calendar rolled over into the new month, this bizarre silhouette appeared in one of our trees:

OK, I guess you really never know what creatures will show up in May! I certainly never expected to see a Green Heron in our yard, let alone at the top of a tree, calling out like some sort of songbird. Perhaps this bird was attracted to a neighboring pond; I actually saw a few more Green Herons flying around later in the week as well. Really, though, what a weird sight:

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds now blaze through our yard like tiny buzzy helicopters. I met up with this little guy while he rested in between sips of Virginia Bluebell nectar:

This male Eastern Bluebird has been hanging around for a while, but he finally sat still long enough to have his picture taken; that's some blue!

(Speaking of blue birds, I saw our first male Indigo Bunting of the year yesterday, but he wasn't in very good light. Here's hoping I'll get more chances to admire these birds in the coming weeks.)

A pair of Baltimore Orioles has been hanging around this week, and I even saw the female carrying long bits of nesting material up to the top of a nearby tall tree. A few days ago, the pair was eating nectar from a neighbor's blossoming apple tree:

Mmm, flowers:

The male Baltimore Oriole really is gorgeous; this is one of those birds that just seems too brightly-colored to belong in this part of the world, but here it is!

I think I startled the female oriole earlier today, because she landed in a nearby bush and yelled at me. She's very pretty, too, although not nearly as fancy as her mate:

And of course, the warblers are starting to pass through (Blackburnian; Nashville; Yellow-rumped; Black-and-White; Black-throated Green!), although they've been generally keeping their distance from me and my camera. A couple of male Chestnut-sided Warblers (one of my favorites) were foraging above my head the other day, showing off their dark suspenders:

This female Common Yellowthroat was mostly hunting inside the bushes, but she made some very brief appearances in the open; I've never noticed that faint wash of chestnut on her forehead before:

The Gray Catbirds are back, calling and singing from shady perches (I've missed these funny birds!):

We've got all these new characters showing up, and the familiar birds keep on doing interesting things, too. Yesterday I came across a male Northern Cardinal singing so, so gently at the female perched just below him:

And this is a little outside the purview of this post (it happened at the end of April rather than the beginning of May), but I was excited last week to watch a White-breasted Nuthatch hunting. It was actually peeking up into the bark crevices on its chosen tree trunk, turning its head to look with one eye:

And then the other:

I don't think I've seen this behavior before, although of course it makes a lot of sense. Bugs are hidden everywhere, and nuthatches have their own ways of looking for them!

I can't believe one whole week of May is already over. I plan to take full advantage of every day in this awesome month!