Thursday, November 5, 2015

Late Birds

Saying Goodbye to Our Summer Friends

Eastern Phoebe
One thing birders often do is keep track of the dates during which species of birds are actually here in New Brunswick.  This gives us early and late dates for each species and also information about what the species is doing, its arrival and departure, its geographical locations, its movements from place to place for food, nesting, etc.  

Two species I watch carefully are the Eastern Phoebe and the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  They feed and nest around our place and are easy to monitor.  I consider them my friends and am always sorry when they leave.  I wish them well as they wing to warmer climes each fall.  

Eastern Phoebe
The Eastern Phoebe arrives earlier than many of our migrants.  That is because it is a bit hardier than some flycatchers, of which it is one.  Its main diet is insects which it catches by flying from a good vantage point like the one on the roof above.  It also eats berries and other fruit so it can survive a bit better in cold weather when insects are difficult to find.  The last phoebe we saw here in Fredericton this year was on October 11.  We saw one later than that, on October 18 on Covedell Road near Tabusintac.

It can be a problem for flycatchers if they return too early in the spring.  If the weather is unusually warm, sometimes they will appear early.  That is fine if some insects have hatched providing food.  If, however, the weather turns bad and there are no insects about, it can be difficult for our phoebes.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Female
Another species I watch carefully for early and late dates is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.  They arrive almost every year on Mother's Day weekend.  Sometimes it is a day or two on either side, but I can usually depend on having visitors to our hummingbird feeders on Mother's Day weekend.  They usually leave around Labour Day weekend.  This year we saw our last hummingbird on September 23.  I still have my feeders out in case an unusual hummingbird shows up looking for food.  That is very unlikely but it has happened in NB before in late fall and in almost every case the hummingbird has been a rare species.  One time it was a Rufous Hummingbird and one time it was a Broad-billed Hummingbird.  You just never know what surprises our avian visitors have for us.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird Male
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Male

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