Spring has arrived early this year after a mild winter. Migrants have been here in full force. Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins blanketed the neighborhood for days and Sandhill Cranes were seen high overhead. All that planting you did last year to provide blooms for pollinators in late winter and early spring is now paying off.
It’s May and, as always in this month, there’s a lot going on. Pollinators are busy and some species of birds are raising a second brood. We’ve seen a few Hummingbirds, but they are still infrequent visitors to our blooms.
The neighbor across the street reports that the resident box turtle was seen hiking up their driveway. And one of the most interesting reports came from a neighbor on West Paces Ferry who sent us a photo taken in her yard of a Groundhog (aka Woodchuck or Whistlepig). She contacted Georgia DNR who confirmed it as a Groundhog saying that while it’s unusual for them to be this far south in Georgia, it’s not unheard of.
Mild weather continued in March. It actually felt like Spring as we passed the first official day of the season. Last month we told you we heard frogs. This month we’ve been hearing them more and seeing them, as well as lots of tadpoles.
March’s photos include nesting birds, native bees and two butterfly species: Sulfur and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. Also both of our native honeysuckle vines are blooming coinciding with the arrival of hummingbirds. So be on the lookout.
As you can see below, the Cooper’s Hawks are still here. This one had just caught a Mourning Dove.
Again our monthly journal is mostly about birds. In addition to these colorful visitors, we saw many Blue Jays, Red-winged Blackbirds, and Red-tailed Hawks in January. The weather continues to be unseasonably warm, and we are seeing territorial disputes already beginning; particularly Eastern Bluebirds, Brown-headed Nuthatches and American Robins. And we are on the lookout for early hummingbird arrivals.
Our wildlife photos for December are mostly of birds. Of the 22 species shown below, some are migrants, some are winter residents and some are here year-round. With all the unseasonably warm weather there have been lots of ladybugs. We were unable to get a photo of our pal the opossum, but take it from us, he’s a handsome guy.
Happy New Year!
For the second year, Stella and Jack Wissner have hosted representatives from the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center and Neighborhood Nestwatch Program. Stella is a master birder and an active member of Atlanta Audubon.
This past Sunday Adam Eichenwald and Julie Downs, Smithsonian representatives, arrived at 6:30 AM. Adam has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and Environmental Science from Bowdoin in Maine, and Julie is an Auburn graduate with a Bachelor’s in Wildlife Ecology and Management.
They went straight to work and set up two nets in Stella and Jack’s back yard. The nets are a few feet off the ground, about 20 feet long and 6 feet high, and are made of very fine black webbing which makes them practically invisible. Then everybody waits until a bird flies into the net.
Very carefully a captured bird is extracted, measured, weighed, banded and released. The results are recorded and entered into the Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Program database and a copy is given to Stella and Jack. Then all year, as they watch birds come to their feeders, they can tell if it’s one that they helped identify. They forward information on their sightings back to the Smithsonian.
As if that weren’t enough, two active nests were discovered in the shrubbery. One in the back yard had two Eastern Towhee chicks, and a second in a shrub in their neighbor’s yard had three Northern Mockingbird eggs.
Being in the Wissner’s back yard is like being in a hardwood forest, full of bird song and activity. Sunday morning the weather was perfect, and 5 birds were banded. Great morning! Thanks Stella, Jack, Adam and Julie for the opportunity to observe this remarkable activity.