Friday, March 14, 2014

Time to watch the feeders

If you're a regular backyard bird feeder, now's the time to keep a sharp eye on what is going on outside the window, for the first Pine Warblers are now just arriving in our area. Like most American wood-warblers, Pine Warblers are largely insectivorous; however, they arrive back on the breeding grounds so early that surviving entirely on insects is often not feasible, so they have learned to adapt. Pine Warblers will feed on a variety of seeds and fruits early in the year and can often be seen feeding in leaf litter on the ground during March. Indeed, looking for them on the ground is probably the best way to find one this early in the season as they spend a lot of time there and they will often take to feeding among flocks of White-throated and Song Sparrows, searching for seeds underneath backyard feeders.

Male Pine Warbler rummaging through the sunflower seeds at the Northwood Center today. As with many wood-warblers, the facial pattern can be important for identifying the species. With this Pine Warbler, note the short supercilium, not extending behind the eye, the dark lores and the broken eye ring [photo by Mike Crewe].

Pat Sutton contacted me to say she had seen a Pine Warbler feeding at her feeder last Wednesday (12th) and one turned up at the Northwood Center feeders today, often feeding from the same perch that had been occupied by the Painted Bunting recently. The first Pine Warblers to arrive are usually adult males, forging ahead to set up breeding territories before the females get here. As such, your first Pine Warbler will probably be quite a snazzy one with a green back, double wing bar and plenty of yellow from head to belly below.

Feeder watching has been a popular passtime in Somer's Point, Atlantic County for Nancy Stein as she has had both this Red-headed Woodpecker and Baltimore Oriole spending the winter with her [photo by Nancy Stein].

Keep those feeders well stocked while the cold weather lasts at least, but remember to get out and enjoy what's around at the moment. Two Purple Martins were reported from Cape May Point State Park today, a Piping Plover was in North Cape May on the beach there and multiple Black-headed Gulls continue to be reported from beaches in Villas and North Cape May.

Don't forget, the CMBO annual Optics Sale takes place this very weekend, 9AM-5PM, Saturday and Sunday. Hurry on down to see what's on offer (don't forget your membership card if you already have one, or you can sign up on the day!) and treat yourself to a great deal!