Good Resource: BirdCast Migration Forecasts
Want to know what spring migrants are on your doorstep? What the next species of warbler in your backyard should be? The Cornell Lab of Ornithology's BirdCast site provides a regional analysis of migration patterns and a forecast for arriving and departing species in the week ahead. Check out BirdCast to see what you can find this week and for the rest of the spring.
March/April 2017 - The Veep's Peep
Spring is sprung, and north-bound birds are heading our way. As bird-lovers, we can make a huge difference in these tiny creatures' lives, increasing their chances for survival as they either pass through our area or stop here with us for the summer. In our human environment, each back yard can be an important way station for our avian friends. Food, water, shelter, safety, breeding habitat -- we can provide it all.
Let's talk about habitat. Native flowers, shrubs and trees are beneficial to birds because they attract the native insects that birds eat. In the spring and summer, this is particularly important, because even seed-eating birds feed insects to their young. If you've ever paused to watch insect life on a native perennial, such as Eutrochium fistulosum (Joe Pye Weed) or Monarda didyma (Beebalm), you will have noticed a striking difference in activity compared to any non-native herbaceous plant. And natives don't just benefit birds and insects -- during the heat of summer, it's the hardy natives that don't need us to tend and water them, and in the winter it's the hardy natives that don't need us to baby and mulch them.
Why not convert a section of lawn - a desert to birds - into a meadow or natural area? You could plant a few native grasses and flowers to give it a head start, or just let it grow and see what comes up! Pull out any non-natives as they appear, and just wait -- plant it, or let it go wild, and they will come.
While you're at it, take those downed branches and other plant debris, and make a brush pile! Birds such as this Common Yellowthroat will thank you for the shelter and safety a brush pile provides, and you don't have to haul off your yard "waste". If you're feeling really ambitious, dig a hole - perhaps in your new meadow - and plant a snag. Yes! A long branch from a mature oak tree, or a fallen cedar tree, make great snags from which everything from chickadees to hawks can survey your native vegetation.
Interested in learning more or getting started?
The Piedmont Bird Club is always happy to hear from non-members, and we extend a warm and cordial welcome to anyone who would like to experience one of our outside or inside activities. Check our calendar for details.
I look forward to seeing you very soon!
“North Carolina is a great place for birding. And the Piedmont Bird Club is a wonderful group of folks to bird with!”