The Local Birds Are Nesting

by Aden Troyer | Jun 1, 2024 | 0 comments

Baltimore Oriole and American Kestral
Baltimore Oriole © Harry Collins|Dreamstime.com. American Kestrel © Menno67|Dreamstime.com.

By early June the northern migration is pretty well over, the local birds are nesting, and many are busily gathering food for their hungry hatchlings.

The singing and chasing associated with nesting site selection and finding mates is about over, and the woods and fields are much quieter than a month earlier.

June weather is usually very pleasant, and the biting insects are not as bad as they’ll be later. It’s a great time to grab a pair of binoculars, hike into a more “birdy” area, find a seat, and observe the activity.

Here in our home county we have well over twenty species of warblers that nest here, plus vireos, flycatchers, thrushes, sparrows, swallows, and more.

By observation, a person can learn much about the feeding habits of the various species. Thrushes forage mostly on the ground. Some of the warblers and sparrows hunt for food in low bushes and brier patches and seldom get above maybe 12 or 15 feet (3-4 m) high. Others pick insects and worms from mid-level in forested areas, while some warblers, vireos, and flycatchers are found in the upper canopy. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, and Brown Creepers all get their food in or under the bark of larger trees. Meanwhile, the field birds, several sparrows, meadowlarks, Bobolinks, several blackbirds, Horned Larks, and others mostly feed in open areas such as hay fields, pastures, and other crop fields.

Each species fills a niche in our ecosystem, and the number of insects and worms birds consume each season is staggering.

Several years ago we were happy to have a pair of Baltimore Orioles build a nest within about 80 yards/meters of our store. A week later an Orchard Oriole pair built their nest 30 or 40 feet (10-12 m) from the Baltimore’s nest. Surprisingly, the Orchard Oriole male wasn’t a full adult, but what is shown in the field guides as a sub-adult—yellowish body with a black bib, not the brick red plumage of a full adult.

Our family had a great opportunity to note the difference in their nest construction, their feeding habits, etc. Our son had a nesting box for American Kestrels located on a tree about 100 yards/meters from the oriole nests. Several times a kestrel perched too near the oriole nests. The orioles went berserk. All four of the parents would dive at that small hawk, screeching for all they were worth, especially the male Baltimore. He worked himself into a frenzy, actually hitting the kestrel hard enough to nearly knock it off its perch. The kestrels soon learned they were not welcome there and used other perches nearby to hunt from.

Yes, June is a wonderful month for any nature lover.

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