Spring Birding

We are blessed living in the Low Country because the birding is outstanding year round. In winter we have all the ducks, shorebirds, and raptors that pass through winter over with us, plus the zillions of yellow-rumped warblers.

Studies are showing that in North America and in the U.K., migration is occurring about two weeks earlier than in the past. Winters are milder, springtime is coming earlier and many birds are responding by heading northward for the tropics earlier.

By April/May you should have your garden ready to receive and greet the returners. Feeders clean and full, black oil sunflower seeds, some white millet, an orange nailed to a tree for orioles, hummingbird feeders clean and brimming. More birds pass through our gardens than we realize because we don't sit all day watching. In my garden, 11:00 am is feeding time for most species, then again around 4:00 pm. Try to spend some quality time at those hours and you will be rewarded with surprising migrant sightings on into May.

Most important, have moving water available. Stagnant birdbaths do not attract birds. The water must be changed daily. Nothing attracts all birds, seedeaters and insect eaters like moving water. A dripper, a fountain, a trickling garden pool or best of all a MISTER, set so as to project the atomized mist upward into a bush. The dripping leaves become an absolute magnet for all birds. The long distance migrants need to bathe every day in order to keep their feathers in good condition for flying. They all need a drink of fresh water also. The most difficult thing for birds to find is fresh, clean water. With the drought conditions prevailing in the southeast, this makes fresh water scarce and precious.

This whole panoply can be yours with just a little planning and care.

Beyond your garden are the wild areas in your neighborhoods, fields, woods, and power lines. Put them on your route if you take daily walks or make a point of seeking out these areas with a companion.

Spend time on the beaches either on an incoming tide or outgoing tide. The shorebirds come to rest and feed before continuing their northward trek. These weeks afford great opportunities to see migrants in breeding plumage, a change from their drab winter grays.

Look at the Audubon Guide for places to bird in and around Hilton Head. With a companion, venture out to Savannah Wildlife Refuge or go up to the Webb Wildlife Management area. It is a wonderful place to visit and so rich in bird life. This is the time of year to enjoy this marvelous extravaganza of spring, you only have to get out of doors, whether in your own garden, neighborhood or beyond. Take your binoculars and go. It only happens once a year. Don't miss it! Enjoy!

Article By: Barry Lowes