Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The First Big Wave of Spring

Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Yesterday morning the first sound I heard was a yellow-throated vireo singing from the orchard to the west of our house.

The second thing I heard was Julie running into the room shouting "Get up! There's a yellow-throated vireo singing outside!"

The male YTVI was not alone. There was a red-eyed vireo out there too. And a white-eyed vireo! All of them were singing.

I was fascinated to see that the tent caterpillars were obvious all of a sudden. Perfect timing for this vital bird food source.

I hurried upstairs to get my binocs and then stepped out onto the deck. A blue-winged warbler sang from way out the meadow. I shouted the name of this new arrival in to Julie. She shouted back from the front yard with another species.

We walked the kids out to the bus, then spent about an hour on the deck listening and watching. It was sweet noting the new arrivals, after such a long wait for spring's arrival. We had a false spring with warm weather and bursting flowers. This was followed by 10 days of cold, snow flurries, and icy nights in the 20s. We were happy that few songbirds arrived early because they would have had a tough time of it.

As the morning wore on and I began thinking of getting to work, the burry song of a scarlet tanager burst forth from The Point, along our north border. Then, as if we'd willed it, the male scarlet took his place at the top of an elm sapling and sang for a few minutes. What a sight for sore eyes his scarlet color was! We drank him in through the spotting scope until he moved farther into the woods.

The first male scarlet tanager of spring. The last scarlet tanager I saw here at the farm was on last year's Big Sit!

After several weeks of anticipation, with many missed early-arrival dates, spring itself arrived--in feathered form--in a big way!

All in all we had 11 new bird arrivals for Monday, April 23:

  1. Yellow-throated vireo
  2. Red-eyed vireo
  3. White-eyed vireo
  4. Hooded warbler
  5. Prairie warbler
  6. Yellow warbler
  7. Palm warbler
  8. Blue-winged warbler
  9. Scarlet tanager
  10. Wood thrush
  11. Louisiana waterthrush
The wood thrush and waterthrush (no relation) were heard last evening just before dusk, while we sat out in the lawn, talking to our neighbor, Dave Hawkins.

Photographic proof of a pass-through palm warbler. Too bad the camera focused on the dead willow leaves.

Our broad-winged hawks got back a week ago. I have not yet heard their two note whistle, but surely will soon.


On April 24, 2007 at 10:35 AM Christine of Tk Pk, MD said...

Oh, I just posted a question on tent caterpillars on Julie's blog!! They are out in droves here in the DC area. I will ask my question here too. Do cardinals eat them? I'm noticing a drop in birds eating seed at my feeders and since most of them are the dreaded house sparrows I was hoping to stop feeding for a while to entice them to go someplace else. But I didn't want to get rid of the cardinal pairs that come in for seed daily. If they do eat tent caterpillars then they need go nowhere else as my black cherry tree looks like tent caterpillar high-rise condos. (Last night I thought it was raining out only to find out it was the sound of the caterpillars falling everywhere.)

On April 24, 2007 at 12:42 PM Rondeau Ric said...

Nice batch of birds.
Maybe we will get them this weekend.
Just yellow rumo and one BTG

On April 24, 2007 at 10:09 PM Julie Zickefoose said...

Hey Christine,

sorry I've been running around and unable to keep up with my comment section. I do not know if cardinals eat tent caterpillars. I do know that all of our birds are really cutting down on seed intake now that there are some insects and buds to eat. Scarlet tanagers and of course cuckoos will eat tent caterpillars, but I have yet to see a cardinal eat one. That's not to say they don't; they take a lot of insects. It shouldn't hurt to stop feeding now if you want to discourage house sparrows. There's food around.

On April 24, 2007 at 10:33 PM April said...

Are tent caterpillars a rich food source for native birds? I was taught to burn them out of the trees with a torch, LOL! Mether has a phobia about worms....

I keep suet and oiler sunflower seed up for the nuthathches, chickadees, cardinals and house-finches. Will this help keep the english HOSP away? Starlings?

"My" Cooper's Hawks aren't really operational yet....they like EHOSPs.

On April 24, 2007 at 11:35 PM Susan Gets Native said...

I noticed the "Creeping White Death" caterpillars too.
I liked them on other people's trees...not ours. But if the birds eat them, bring on the crawlies.

Jeez, it was a banner bird day at ol' Indigo Hill Manor!

On April 26, 2007 at 10:32 AM Heather A said...

Hi Bill. Found your site thruogh Julie's site (which I found off her home page... just bought Ora's "Out of the Woods" and love Julie's drawings). Love your bird photos and am excited to see your listing of birds heading into the area. My husband and I live in Albany (OH), and I've been noticing new long-awaited birds returning as well. Just the other day I spotted a Brown Thrasher nest not too far from our property with 4 eggs in it (never mind that I get stuck by as many thorns trying to get a long handled mirror in to see inside the nest). I checked the nest again yesterday, and momma bird was sitting tight, incubating those eggs. I hope to get a photo of her soon, before the eggs hatch and she becomes a crazy lady who won't let me near her nest! Happy spring to you and your family, and Happy Birding!

On May 16, 2007 at 10:00 PM Leslie said...

saw my very first scarlet tanager yesterday, here in Ontario, Canada!

what a beautiful bird!

Hummers have shown up this week also...glorious sites!