Spring Bird Alert No. 2
May 12, 2017
Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust
Bobolinks and Hummers! 

Rebecca Brown portraitIn the first bird alert I was a bit optimistic about spring arriving. 

However - after this rainy weekend, it looks like we're turning a corner next week. 

And this morning's bird arrivals show it. Bobolinks are here - a couple of days early, amazingly. At there rate we've been going, I thought they'd wait until June. At our place in Sugar Hill, they reliably show up on or around Mother's Day. They arrive overnight - last night's bright moon brought them along I'm sure. Hearing their cheerful bubbling song for the first time in the morning is one of the delights of spring.

Walking this morning in the woods I finally heard black-throated blue warblers, wood thrush, and a black and white warbler. There are plenty of ovenbirds, and vireos - our common but easily confused vireos are featured below.

Then late this afternoon as I was hanging out some laundry (I am optimistic) a hummingbird buzzed by my ear. As if to say, get with it! Where's the feeder? I immediately called my neighbor - every spring one or the other us calls to report the first hummer - and we dutifully mix the sugar water and put out the feeder.At our place, the hummingbirds show up when the Virginia bluebells blossom.  

Send us your sightings (what and where to rbrown@aconservationtrust.org ) and we'll include them in the next alert. 

Have fun outside! 
Rebecca Brown
Rebecca Brown                                                                                        
Executive Director


These  members   of  the blackbird family are among our longest  distant  migrants, coming from as far as Argentina. That's a 12,500-mile round trip! 

They congregate and nest in large open fields. You can watch them flutter about singing as they fly. "Bobolink" is an approximation of their burbling song. 

Bobolink populations are declining because of loss of habitat - open fields that convert to houses or grow up to shrubs and eventually forest; and in South America, conversions of natural grasslands to soybeans and other monocultures. If you have a field with bobolinks, the most helpful thing you can do is mow it after August 15, when the bobolink young have flown.  
Do you know someone who would like the Bird Alert?

Yellow-throated vireo  

Vireos are common, but confusing. They look somewhat alike, and their songs are similar. And, they tend to stay high in the trees. Never fear, there are a few simple ways to tell them apart. 

The yellow-throated is the first vireo to return to our area. The common mnemonic or "memory aid" for this bird is  "three - ay; three - ay."    But I hear their distinctly low and slow cadence as   "yell - oh . . veer - oh"   which is how I remember them.  

Here's a link to a list of mnemonic bird songs. 

Before the trees really leaf out you can spot these birds way up high. Look for the white wing bars, and yellow chest.

Saturday May 13 is International Migratory Bird Day. You can join early morning walks at Pondicherry Refuge in Whitefield and at The Rocks in Bethlehem.  

Blue-headed vireo

The second vireo to return to our woods, after the yellow-throated. They range between higher up and the middle levels of hardwoods, darting about for insects. Their song is similar to the red-eyed vireo's  " here I am - where are you? " but richer in tone. 

Look for the yellow sides, gray/blue head, and those distinct white "spectacles" around the eyes. 


Red-eyed Vireo

"Here I am - where are you?" sing-song over and over all day long - that's the red-eyed vireo. Darting about high in the trees, they usually arrive after the leaves are out so it may take a little patience to get a good look. When you do, you'll see the eye stripe, and maybe even a red eye.  

Warbling Vireo

This is a rather nondescript bird, but its song is lovely. It warbles! Its song is very different from the three vireos above. It's also not a vireo of the dense forest. It prefers forest edges and likes to be near water. 
Photography courtesy of First and Last Name, First and Last Name.