Friday, May 10, 2013

Where are all the birds!?

I've been back for almost a week now and I have to ask what a few of my neighbours are also asking "where are all the birds?".  There are so few birds being seen and coming to feeders that it is almost eerie.  It has got to the point that I dug out old records to see what is normally happening around here in the early part of the month of May, and those records confirmed that something is definitely different this year.  Is it the unseasonably warm weather that is causing the decline as temperatures are at least 10 degrees warmer than what appears to be 'normal'.

Before we get into details though I will note that water levels are rising rapidly....

here is our boat launch as it looked an hour or so ago.  Soon even the upper portion of the path will be under water so we may not be seeing this view again for some time.  Notice the hazy conditions, I've heard, but don't know for sure, that this is smoke being blown over here from Russian forest fires....I do know that some days this week we haven't even been able to see the mountains.

There are now Salmon fry swimming where we walked not so long ago.  

Yesterday the water was on the far side of the marker on the left in the photo, today it is up past it.

But let's get back to the birds....and I will note that I could see one Red-wing Blackbird off in the distance and I could hear a Common Yellow-throat and a Bullock's Oriole calling.  That was it despite sitting and watching quietly for a while.

Some birds are of course nesting now, the Towhee, Song Sparrow, Robins and Blackbirds, so tend to be quieter and make themselves scarce.

Black-headed Grosbeak are normally here now and that has held true, I've had a couple of males visit females yet which would be more or less normal.  In past years we've been inundated with Evening Grosbeaks at this time.  I heard a pair were seen a week or so ago but that has been it.

Speaking of inundated.....that is normally the case with Band-tail Pigeons at this time of the year.  I saw one the beginning of the week, but remember a few showed up really early this year....have they already moved through?  I don't know.

Swallows.....where are they?  This female Tree Swallow was looking out of this bird house yesterday but they are few and far between.  There were lots around earlier, have they all moved on?  I have seen a few Barn Swallows but normally we'd expect swallows to be flying around all over the place about now.

Occasionally an American Goldfinch shows up at the feeder, but not in the numbers normal for this time of year, although Ernie tells me there were a lot of them at the log bay the other evening.  A few Purple Finch have been quietly sneaking in, usually late in the afternoon, but not in the numbers we usually get in early May.  

a couple of Black-capped Chickadees are visiting fairly regularly while the Chestnut-backed seem to have totally disappeared along with the Nuthatches.

The last couple of days the most frequently seen bird has been the Rufous Hummingbird, like this female that was out there this morning.

The Siskin have disappeared again.  I've seen one White-crowned Sparrow where normally they and their cousins the Gold-crowned and even White-throated are usually just passing through right now.  That seems to have already happened if the numbers of at least White-crowned at Tunkwa Lake where we spent last week was any indication.  Same with the Yellow-headed Blackbirds that occasionally stop here....they were already arriving further north.  Brown headed cowbirds are here, but again only one or two, which given they are cowbirds isn't necessarily a bad thing! 

I have heard the occasional Osprey calling, and Raven were making a racket up on the hillside earlier today.  Ernie tells me there was a Canada Goose family with 4 goslings at the log bay (which is no longer a 'bay' as the water levels rise).  I spotted a Red-breasted Sapsucker yesterday, but all in all it is definitely a very different season and will be interesting to see how it all plays out.

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