May is a whirlwind month for songbird migration. Warblers, thrushes, and all the neo-tropical birds will be coming in or passing through to their nesting grounds in the north. The best part is all these birds will be in their brightest or breeding plumage. If you are a warbler buff, you know what I mean. These little beauties are much easier to identify now than in the fall. Those of you in city neighborhoods are equally able to see many of these migrating birds as well. And with a little habitat, along with some moving water, you’ll be surprised at the variety of warblers, kinglets, vireos, and others you’ll attract. The birds that winter in the tropics come up through the bottle neck of Central America and spread out into the vast expanses of the North American continent to nest and raise their families. If we are alert, we can share in this excitement. The other side of the story is our winter visitors are leaving, headed back to their northern breeding areas. In the Midwest and Central Great Plains this year we were blessed with many winter visitors we have not seen in such numbers for several years.
Goldfinch will continue to feed heavily at the thistle feeders up until the dandelions ripen and go to seed. That is when the northern goldfinch population that have been with us during the winter will pursue this delicacy, and follow the blooming dandelions north to their nesting grounds. Our resident goldfinch that wintered in the south are already back with their bright breeding colors, and will continue feeding at our thistle feeders until they move out into rural areas in late June to begin nesting.
Put out nesting materials for our local nesting songbirds. These birds will readily take bits of yarn, string, feathers, and other materials. Avoid dryer lint as this material, when it gets wet, retains moisture and may increase the risk of hypothermia to young nestlings. It also has a tendency to dissolve and become matted in the nest.
Keep your eyes alert to the early nesting birds as they will bring their young to your feeders. This is such an exciting time of the year for all bird lovers, so don’t miss out on it. Be careful however. Watching birds can become habit forming.