This is a great time of year for birdwatchers.
These colorful birds with their lyrical song start to arrive here just as the trees are leafing out. They are in search of insects and spiders. Most of these birds will travel northward, but the Oriole is one to stay and nest.
Baltimore orioles returned to the Niagara and Erie regions during May and many birders were delighted to observe these brilliant black and orange birds. Even at home, the orioles dropped by for grape jelly, orange halves and even peanuts.
When the trees leaf out, it is timed perfectly with the emergence of many destructive insect pests. A favorite is caterpillars. Warblers are very attracted to water and the insects water brings.
Like I mentioned on GWGT, warblers prefer brushy areas, thickets, chaparral, coniferous and oak woods, orchards, parklands and forest edges. Brush piles or overgrown thickets are especially attractive to them, but also makes photographing them difficult. Warblers will readily use thickets for shelter during migration in fall.
But why so many orioles this year and last? The simple answer is the birds were stressed by hunger.
Orioles will feed high in the tree canopy on caterpillars and adult insects as a rule. Insect hatching was behind schedule last spring, causing orioles to show up at feeders. The same thing happened with warblers that arrived early, explaining why I had one in my garden this year.
A birder I met while watching for warblers mentioned seeing flocks of them ground-feeding in the grass. He said that was quite unusual for this elusive bird species to ground feed, some even lapping up insects along the walking path.
It really is difficult to imagine how small are these birds. Seeing them in the grass up closer even makes their size seem so diminutive. The warblers are called butterflies of the sky and they are very close in size with wings spread to some of the larger butterflies.
Rose-breasted grosbeak visited feeders, too, a wonderful sight dressed in their bright black and white suit with rosy bandana. Their huge beak made fast work of the feeder offerings.
Seeing these colorful spring birds at feeders is a joy, but it is because some critical insect populations were either decimated by the cold spring, or later to arrive than the birds.
For whatever the reason, seeing them at feeders was a wonderful experience.