Birdwatching

June Birds In The Yard

Here in the Midwest, June is one of the really exciting bird months in the yard.   This is prime nesting time for many species of birds.

Orchard Oriole

Many of the year-round birds start nesting before this month, such as bluebirds, robins, house finches, and mourning doves.  But, for those long-distance migrants that arrive in May, June is when they are seriously getting going with raising a family.

What kinds of birds fit this June nesting pattern?  Barn swallows, Orioles, Hummingbirds, Warblers, Wrens, Catbirds, Grosbeaks, Flycatchers, and Buntings are just some of the active nesters this time of year.   Still, the “other” birds can and often are nesting now too.  We have active bluebird and robin nests right now for example.   So, June may be the month of they year when you have the largest variety of birds around!

One thing you might notice, is many birds will often cease singing as much right now making you think they aren’t around.  Nothing can be further from the truth.  Nesting birds need to be careful not to “broadcast” the fact they have a nest to watchful predators.  Singing birds are often males and usually still trying to attract a mate.  You also might observe that behavior too right now.  However, once they have “paired up”, the singing usually ceases.  Exceptions might be birds like Indigo Buntings that will typically continue to sing well into the summer.

One interesting thing to do is pick a nice day around now, find a nice shaded spot to sit and a pair of binoculars, and observe the birds that fly around your yard.  Notice what they are doing and where they are going to and coming from.  You might get lucky and see where an interesting bird may be nesting.  For example, we noticed a pair of Orchard Orioles hanging around a particular lilac bush in our yard on numerous occasions.  (See the picture of a male Orchard) Since our habitat is good for these beautiful members of the blackbird family, we are suspicious they are building a nesting in the lilac.  Unfortunately, our efforts to spot a nest have not been successful – yet.  The point is that birds are experts at locating and hiding the locations of their nests.  So, you may not even know of a nest until the fall when the leaves fall off the tree!

Another thing we’ve learned in watching the yard is how amazing Cedar Waxwings are at knowing exactly when certain berries (their favorite food) are going to ripen.  We have a Serviceberry Tree (also known as Juneberry for when the fruit ripens) that the Waxwings absolutely love.   These beautiful birds are notorious wanderers and highly social, and often travel around in small groups or flocks.  Maybe that’s how they find fruit trees?   The more eyes that are looking, the more food they can find collectively.  Anyway, this time of year, we can see them coming and going all day to the tree as more fruit becomes ripe.

If you want to attract even more June birds into the yard, just follow our suggestions on our resource pages on feeding the birds and the use of water and plantings.  Many beautiful bird species aren’t interested in seed at all.  But they will respond readily to water or fruits on shrubs and trees you have planted.   Also, insect eating birds will love your yard if you have a big variety of plantings that provide homes/food for a lot of insect species.

So, enjoy this fun time of the year in your yard!

May Is Prime Bird Watching Time In The Yard

This is THE most exciting time of the year if you’re a birdwatcher – at least in the northern half of North America.  Backyard BirdwatchingMany of the passerines (songbirds) are migrating through local areas in large numbers.  This offers the best time to see a lot of colorful birds like warblers, tanagers, buntings, grosbeaks, and orioles to name a few species.

Many of these birds are heading toward more northern habitats or higher elevation areas where they breed.  Others will settle down locally to raise their young.  Either way, migration is exhausting for birds, so they’ll be very active looking for food to replenish themselves.  Between this and trees not being completely leafed out yet, the birds will be easier to see.

So, it’s a great idea to keep your bird feeders and bird baths stocked up to help these tired travellers.  And have your binoculars ready to pick up and use at all times.  You can see many different kinds of birds in your yard that may not normally be seen.  The more trees and shrubs you have for shelter and foraging, the more birds you’re likely to spot.

Even if you can’t see these interesting birds all the time, sometimes you’ll be able to identify them by their songs.   Warblers for example often hide in dense cover or up in tree tops.  Plus, they’re very small birds to begin with and are harder to see.  But, as their name implies, they make a variety of warbling, high-pitched songs and calls that alert you to their presence.  Learning bird calls by either buying one of the CD collections or downloading an app for your phone is time well spent.

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Cornell Lab of Ornithology