Category Archives: Juvenile Birds

Heading South

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

juvenile male Ruby-throated Hummingbird at a feeder in Peachtree Park on September 21, 2016

Do the hummers that you are seeing now seem to be a bit more skittish than the ones that you’ve been seeing all summer?  Maybe it’s because the migrants are here, and they aren’t as familiar with their surroundings as the locals.  [1]

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

adult male Ruby-throat 9/21/16

Hummingbirds overwinter in Central and South America. [2]  Ruby-throated Hummingbirds return to most parts of Georgia in March (in Atlanta, around March 15 – April 1) [2] and usually stay with us until the first week in October. [10]  So it’s a great time to enjoy the last days of the locals before they head south, as well migrants passing through from points north.

Black-chinned Hummingbird - Archilochus alexandri Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin TX - April 7, 2015

Black-chinned Hummingbird – Archilochus alexandri
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Austin TX

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird is the only species of hummingbird known to nest to Georgia. [4]  In fact, it is the only hummingbird known to breed east of the Mississippi River. [11]  Our female Ruby- throated hummers produce up to two broods per year.  Nests are typically built on a small branch, sometimes rebuilding the nest from the previous year. [4]

However, Ruby-throats are not the only hummingbirds in Georgia.  There are 10 others that spend time here in the summer: Black-chinned, Rufous, Calliope, Magnificent, Allen’s, Anna’s, Broad-billed, Green Violet-ear, Green-breasted Mango and Broad-tailed hummingbird. [4]

Anna's Hummingbird - Calypte anna Desert Museum, Tuscon, AZ - March 2010

Anna’s Hummingbird – Calypte anna
Desert Museum, Tuscon, AZ

Some hummingbirds do overwinter in Georgia [6] and there are periodic sightings in Atlanta. So, it’s a good idea to keep one feeder up in the winter.  Even better, make sure you have pollinator-friendly plants blooming year-round. Witch Hazel, Lenten Roses, and winter bulbs such as Crocus are some examples.

Despite what you may have heard, you cannot keep hummingbirds from migrating by leaving feeders up during the fall and winter seasons.  Hummingbirds migrate in response to a decline in day length, not food availability. [5]

We’ve included some links below with additional information on migration, feeding, and overwintering.  The first link from Lerner.org will direct you to a dynamic hummingbird migration map and the second link from the University of Georgia has good information on feeding.  Also, If you haven’t visited the State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s Hummingbird Trail, you should consider a drive over to Athens.

Hummmmm.  Zoom!  Zip!    We’re outta here.

References and Additional Information

[1]  Learner.org – Journey North: Hummingbird: Pushing Southward
[2]  UGA: Make Your Backyard a Favorite for Hummingbirds
[3]  GA Department of Agriculture: – Plant a Garden for Hummingbirds
[4]  Georgia DNR: Hummingbirds in Your Backyard – Interesting Facts
[5]  Georgia DNR: Hummingbirds in Your Backyard – Feeding Hummingbirds
[6]  Georgia DNR: Out My Backdoor – Creating Hummingbird Havens
[7]  UGA: Creating Native Plant Hummingbird Habitat in Georgia
[9]  Georgia DNR: Georgia’s Wintering Hummingbirds
[9]  UGA: Extension: Attracting Birds to Your Backyard
[10]  The State Botanical garden of Georgia: Hummingbird Trail
[11]  The Breeding Bird Atlas of Georgia – UGA Press: Schneider, Beaton, Keyes and Klaus, Eds.

Monthly Journal – August, 2016

August has passed, and birds are beginning to head south.  Groups of migrating American Robins are beginning to appear on lawns.  There was another report of the groundhog from the north end of the neighborhood and twice we’ve caught a glimpse of a groundhog-size critter disappearing into the grass on the Nature Trail.   Also, we were lucky a few days ago to have a rare daylight visit from one of our resident possums.

A newsletter from the South Fork Conservancy reports that Atlanta Audubon has documented over 75 species of birds on the South Fork of Peachtree Creek!  It’s just off Lindbergh, very close to us, and you can go on a guided bird tour of the trail this Saturday, September 3.  Atlanta Audubon has more information on their Field Trips page.  You’ll need to scroll down to the calendar and click on the “The Confluence” under September 3rd.  If you want to join them, they ask that you RSVP.

Hungry!

Red-tailed Hawk - Buteo jamaicensis
Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - July, 2016

Red-tailed Hawk – Buteo jamaicensis

Mid-day today we heard the insistent begging call of a juvenile hawk.  It was so loud and went on so long, we thought something might be wrong, but it turns out he was just hungry!    We finally spotted him in a large pine next door.  The parent was close by and buzzed us on our deck.

We naturally assumed he was a Cooper’s, having just watched a brood fledge across the street.   We sent pictures to our neighborhood ornithologist expert and friend.  Surprise – a Red-tailed Hawk!   This is great news because it means Red-tails have successfully nested here.

Look up and check the mature pines in our neighborhood for this young Red-tailed Hawk family.

Monthly Journal – July, 2016

July has been full of birds. We think our yard has never been as full of birds as this past month.  A cake of suet lasts about a day and a half and we’re filling large feeders every 4 days. Catbirds are everywhere, and we are getting up at sunrise to beat them and the robins to our ripening figs.

Birds are still fledging, and some bird houses up and down the street and on the Nature Trail are hosting their third brood of this season.  Two of the photos below, shot through our window, are of a baby catbird who wasn’t quite quite ready to fly and wound up in boxwood for a few hours.  His parents continued to feed him and eventually he got his wings and left.

What’s missing are butterflies and dragonflies.  They were everywhere this time last year and this year we are seeing very few.  Maybe the birds are eating the larvae.  We are hoping that mosquito spraying is not involved in their disappearance.

The last photo is of the newly resurfaced Nature Trail.  If you are in the neighborhood, you should go see it.

Children at Play

We just knew you’d be interested in a further report on the recently fledged Cooper’s Hawks  (see Monthly Journal, – June 2016 and Cooper’s Hawk Triplets). Yesterday Bruce sent more great photos of two of them enjoying themselves in his bird bath.  Thanks Bruce!

Cooper’s Hawk Triplets

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii
Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - June, 2016

Cooper’s Hawk with a food delivery

Our neighbors across the street sent us a message last night that they were watching three juvenile Cooper’s Hawks playing on a limb 90 feet above their house in a tall pine.  90 feet is so high it hurts your neck to look up.

Our ornithologist friend who lives next door to the nesting hawks said he has seen a lot of them lately in his back yard. He’s had a great time watching them in his trees and bird bath.

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii
Peachtree Park, Atlanta, GA - June, 2016

1 of 3 juvenile Cooper’s Hawks

His observation is that the three juveniles have just fledged and are getting their sea legs.  They’ll stay close by for a while and may even rendezvous at the nest for a few days.  The parents will most likely supplement their food supply a bit longer.  Today they were all in the trees calling to each other back and forth.  We were unable to get a picture of the three together, but will keep a close eye out and post an update if we do.

Fifty years ago Cooper’s Hawks were in real trouble–their numbers were low and declining. But they have adapted to urban living and now seem to be doing very well.  We see them all the time in our neighborhood.

Pine 7

Cooper’s Hawk nest 90 feet up

This emphasizes the importance of pines.  Some people prefer hardwoods, but pines are also a critical part of our area’s  ecology and are a significant resource for nesters, including these Cooper’s Hawks, Barred Owls, and all sorts of wildlife.

The neighbors with the hawks planted a Longleaf Pine when they moved here several years ago.  It’s quite tall and stately now, and will be magnificent some day.  Consider planting one in your yard.

Sunday Brunch

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii Peachtree Park - July 27, 2015

Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii
Peachtree Park – July 27, 2015

We’ve been hearing calls that we thought were the Pileated Woodpecker, but they didn’t quite sound right.  We didn’t think they were the calls of a Cooper’s Hawk either.

And then late this morning we spotted this juvenile Cooper’s hawk 75-80 feet up at the top of a large oak behind our yard making begging calls for food.  We think he’s a juvenile because of the thin dark streak on his chest, best seen in the photo below. This bird was on the move and was off again quickly.  Watch out those of you who look like a hawk morsel!

Cooper's Hawk - Accipiter cooperii Peachtree Park - July 27, 2015

Cooper’s Hawk – Accipiter cooperii
Peachtree Park – July 27, 2015