Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Migrants Cometh

Migrants have finally made their way into town, and brought some beautiful (albeit brief) weather along with them. This typically-exciting time of the year has not disappointed.

Rufous Hummingbirds (above) typically arrive on the Oregon coast in late February, reaching the Valley in early March. Males typically arrive first, followed closely by females. We've seen them in the yard as early as the first week of March, but this is highly variable. Our first yard Rufous was spotted on the 19th, and both sexes have been visiting both the nectar feeder and the flowering bushes regularly since. Anna's Hummingbirds are still around occasionally visit the nectar feeder, but are busy nesting for the most part. In general, March-May is a great time period for Rufous Hummers and I hope to procure several more photos over the next two months.

While certain species are expected during migration, it often brings pleasant surprises as well. And this Spring did not disappoint. On Saturday, we hosted a Chipping Sparrow (above), a new yard species. I have read reports of others in the area, and get the feeling that (1) they're not typical in other people's yards either and (2) their migration is unusually-concentrated in this area this year. I have not seen this individual (or any other) since, and am therefore glad to have snapped a few decent pics.

In other migration news, this past Friday morning brought our first-of-the-year Orange-crowned Warbler. This individual has been foraging through our bushes and our neighbor's apple tree every day since. I was somewhat surprised to see one this early. I typically do not see them until early- or mid-April, but late March is well within their normal arrival time. I suppose that we got lucky this year. We have gotten lucky with winter sparrows again, at least in the short-term. On Saturday a White-crowned Sparrow visited our yard (the first in over three weeks). We have also picked up an additional Golden-crowned Sparrow.

An Orange-crowned Warbler forages through one of our many bushes.

A Golden-crowned Sparrow enjoys a pleasant Saturday afternoon.

The White-crowned Sparrow returns!

And like every action, there is a reaction. When summer hummingbirds, sparrows, and warblers arrive, winter residents like Juncos begin to file out. Over the winter, we'd typically host 7-12 at at time. At this point, it's difficult to find more than 3 or 4 foraging through the yard at a time. Our two Yellow-rumped Warblers have also been visiting the yard less frequently, presumably due to increased natural food sources. Most of our American Goldfinches have molted into summer plumage at this point as well.

A male American Goldfinch in his Summer Best.

Female American Goldfinches are also busy molting.

In other news, Pine Siskins and Lesser Goldfinches have been making occasional visits. The (adult female?) Cooper's Hawk that took out our injured Scrub-Jay has been visiting occasionally as well. Our friendly male Red-winged Blackbird has been stopping in every now and again, but we have not seen a Spotted Towhee in some time. Downy Woodpeckers have picked up in number recently, while Northern Flickers have dropped off (heading up into the hills to breed?).

A Lesser Goldfinch (right) stops in for a bite...

... and a Pine Siskin joins in the fun as well.

A Downy Woodpecker energizes on a cold morning.

We should be seeing more migrants soon, culminating in Wilson's Warblers and Black-headed Grosbeaks in early May. In the meantime, we may see more migrating sparrows (Fox and Lincoln's), wrens, and Cassin's Vireos. We're definitely looking forward to the next two months.

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