Here they come! Our winter birds, I mean. The past ten days have seen the arrival in our yards of many of our normal winter residents. First up was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, soon followed by Tufted Titmouse, Orange-crowned Warbler and Chipping Sparrow. Yellow-rumped Warblers and Pine Warblers haven't appeared in our yards yet but they should be here before long. In the meantime, I was thrilled to see a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, the first in our yards for several years.
Of course, the new arrivals have to share the yards with our year-round residents. Of these, the most numerous of late have been Blue Jays. Every time we look into our front yard, 4-5 Jays are busy collecting acorns from our lawn.
Suet is probably the most popular food that we provide for our birds. Until recently, we've served it in those little green cages that they sell in supermarkets etc. However, last month I found a much more attractive suet feeder in Lowes. It has taken weeks but our Downy Woodpeckers have finally started patronizing the new feeder.
Since September Monarch butterflies have been laying eggs on the milkweeds in our backyard.
Unfortunately, once the milkweeds are full of Monarch caterpillars, something comes and eats them. So far, only one of maybe 20 caterpillars has managed to reach the pupa stage.
The campus was very quiet through most of October and my occasional walks turned up mainly Sedge Wrens and Northern Mockingbirds. I don't know how many of these latter birds we have on campus but it must be scores.
At present they are busy feeding off the fruit of a persimmon tree near the nature trail observation platform.
Over the past couple of weeks, though, quite a few other birds have turned up. For example, one day saw the arrival of a Brown Thrasher, two Eastern Phoebes, a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and a Common Yellowthroat (below).
Since then I have noticed a parade of arriving migrants: Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Orange-crowned Warblers, Savannah Sparrows, Pine Warblers, White-throated Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
It won't be too much longer until we have our full complement of winter birds, including Cedar Waxwings and a range of ducks.