Migration is Underway!
Common Nighthawks began showing up headed south, in our area about August 15th. That is a few days early compared to the usual migration dates in our county. For those that are wondering if you can actually put a date on when birds begin their southern migration out of our area.
Yes, you sure can.
Nighthawks are still moving through our area but in lower numbers. Swallows, Chimney Swifts and other insect eating birds, such as warblers and neo-tropical species, are also on the move south. Their diet, in many cases, is comprised totally of insects. Insects need warm temperatures to propagate and exist in large enough numbers to support these species. Many of these species winter in the Caribbean or Central and South America. So, when you are on vacation in Jamaica and notice a bird that looks familiar, it may indeed be a local from your own neighborhood enjoying the warmth of the southerly location just as you are.
While there is not a great deal a birder or bird aficionado can do to feed insect eating aerial eating birds, you can supply mealworms in your feeder for some quick snacks for those that are perch or ground feeders.
One thing that you can do to help all insect eating birds is to NOT use pesticides, herbicides or fungicides on your lawn, plants or flowers. Toxins kill not only the insects but the birds that ingest the poisoned insects. With some products, those that are dermal absorbable or absorb through their skin, a bird can become toxic and die simply by walking through a field or lawn that has been sprayed. Birds weigh a matter of a few grams. ANY toxin, powdered or pelleted that kills insects, also kill birds. Hummingbirds are particularly at risk when flowers are dusted with toxic products. A speck of product to a hummingbird is equivalent to a gallon or more for a human.
It is very sad when a homeowner brings a bird to our clinic that is critically ill with poisoning. Often the birds are those the homeowner knows, has been feeding and watched grow up on their property and are now convulsing or paralyzed. Hummingbirds are frequent victims of toxin. The homeowner has no idea what happened to the little ones and are horrified to find they were the cause of the problem.
Toxins such as weed killers, herbicides, pesticides and fungicides are widely obtainable. Instructions and warnings on labels can be confusing. Often the warnings suggest that pets and children should be kept away from any spraying or areas where pellets are distributed. Wildlife is rarely if ever mentioned as being at risk. Make no mistake wild species are every bit as vulnerable and do not have the advantage of a parent or owner protecting them. They are biologic organisms just as any animal is, including yourself. Please use your own good judgement to protect wildlife species.
We have released many of our patients this week.
Recently over fifty patients were released to join their wild counterparts. Released were:
1 Brown Thrasher
5 Baltimore Orioles
2 Rose-breasted Grosbeak
3 Eastern Phoebes
3 House Finches
1 Pileated Woodpecker
9 Wood Ducks
1 Black and White Warbler
12 American Robins
3 Red-bellied Woodpeckers
2 American Goldfinches
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
1 Chipping Sparrow
2 Cliff Swallows
6 House Wrens
Enjoy our cooler fall temperatures and look “UP” and marvel at the flocks of birds that live and breed in our region of the country and migrate under the power of their own tiny wings as far south as Argentina. How do they do it? Birds are miracles in feathers. We understand some of the secrets of migration but many are still held exclusively by the bird world.
Enjoy a few photos of our now former patients just prior to release and some as they were released. We will be traveling to Southern WI this week to catch up with the swallow and Chimney Swift flocks in order to release our remaining swallow and swift patients. Releasing them in the very best area is vital to their survival and is the final stage of rehabilitation. We will be consulting with biologists and bird clubs to find the best locations.