Life at Boomer Lake with Deb, Wednesday July 30, 2014
Even Though It Isn't Fall, Migration Has Begun
Look up in the skies to see the wonders of nature—fall migration is happening NOW.
Chemicals Can Kill For Decades
Dead birds found in MI due to a chemical spill decades ago caused by Velsicol Chemical. It was shut down in the ‘90s, but the worms found on the site are killing the birds due to high concentrations of DDE. For more, see:
Sights on the Central Flyway
Here is what is happening and should be happening on the Central Flyway for fall migration. You could well see some of these birds heading your way in TX. Hawks will be starting shortly, so dust off those cameras and binoculars for some very exciting times!
- Fall Migration
Houston's position on the Central Flyway makes it a hotspot for fall migration. The Upper Texas Coast witnesses a steady flow of migratory birds beginning as early as July and lasting through November. Many species hug the coastline on their way to S
What You Can Do to Help
This year is not nearly as dry as 2013, and the beauty of that is that there will be a number of interesting birds with us this summer, fall, and winter. Migratory stopovers are very important for those birds that travel thousands of miles to go to very southern destinations from the US and Canada. They prefer water over food in many cases, so it will be best if you can help in your back yards with both, especially the water. You may not receive hundreds or thousands of birds, but you will get a nice number of those birds that you may not have seen before. Good luck, and as usual, report your oddities to me for tracking purposes.
Eco Friendly Products For Birds
Over the weekend, the American Avocet was found in breeding plumage on the west side of the lake. This thrilled a number of area residents, who were quite taken by this beauty. These are some of the most graceful waders that I have ever seen. The avocet has a very thin, upturned bill, and the Black-necked Stilt has a relatively straight bill, with a shiny black back and white underparts. Stilts are casual visitors to the great lakes, but they are spreading north.
Green Heron Clan
There are at least a couple of pairs of Green Herons on our wonderful lake, and there are young! This is a thrilling discovery, which I really have not looked for. I have heard their calls, I have an idea where they are, but I shall not disturb them. I want these beauties to return to the area next ear, even though they will not be breeders. It takes two or three years for these beautiful herons to reach breeding age, but they will still return to their places of birth in most cases. I had a single bird that visited with me on a regular basis over the past couple of years. There was also a second bird, not nearly as enchanting, but they all have different personalities.
Heron and Egret Talk
Plenty of Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets are at the ready for fishing, most at the Northern Reaches where there is a small heronry. Snowy Egret was on the main part of the lake for a short time last week, which I only spotted on one day. It is not unusual that most of the egret and heron family nest all together, sometimes just within a foot or two of one another in some nesting regions. Luckily, some of the predators that normally are interested in them are at a bare minimum around here. I’m not saying that they don’t have to watch out for themselves, as they do, because raccoons, the occasional eagle, hawks, and vultures will partake if they are hungry enough. Grackles and crows will also eat the eggs if the nests are empty, so these birds must be and are normally very diligent in keeping that from happening.
Can Mallards Breed With Other Ducks?
Most of the Mallard young are grown, and I had the opportunity to snap this photo. This Mallard appears to be a cross with a Northern Pintail. Do you see the evidence of a longer tail? Ducks in the same family can breed together, so if you check your bird books for the anas family, you’ll come up with a number of interesting mixes that are very possible. Mallards mix frequently with the more aggressive American Black Ducks, as well as the Gadwall. The Mallard will also breed with many domestics, too.
I was very lucky to get a good short of this turtle’s head, as they usually will duck under the water when someone is in close proximity. I was interested in seeing the iris, which is rather unusual.
The American Crows are frequenting the area more than usual to look for food, since most animals are finished with breeding for the season. Since they are opportunists, they would much rather rely on another animal for their food, but I have seen them picking up unearthed clams, which had been rejected for whatever reason. They will eat just about anything, like the gulls. However, they will go one step further. They will pick up nuts and hang around traffic lights. They’ll drop their nuts where they will be run over and cracked, so that the crow can retrieve the nutmeat when the majority of the traffic has passed. They aren’t lazy, just smart.
I was presented with the Eastern Phoebe a couple of days ago, which looks very similar to the Eastern Kingbird. It looks similar, as it is in the same family, the flycatchers. My attention was drawn, as it sounds nothing like the kingbird, for it says its own name in a husky voice. My photos were poor, as leaves were in the way, but it clearly showed the lack of the white tip of the tail that the kingbird has.
Where Are the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers?
The Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are close to migrating out of the area, but there are a few stragglers still on the lake. After breeding season, they will go to roost areas where they will gather until it is time to migrate. It seems to be a little early for this phenomena now, but I have not seen any young ones for about a week. These birds generally find roost trees near quiet streams, which some have used for decades. Roosts are between 100-300 birds, and there are some as large as 1,000. As the season progresses and the young birds grow and mature that were hatched this year, the size of the roosts will ebb and flow. Like most songbirds, the scissor-tail migrates at night, so we’ll not see our state bird when they leave, but we could well hear them.
This is the end of our visit this week, but we’ll talk again next time. Keep your eyes to the ground and your head in the clouds. Happy birding!
Clouds of Birds, Swirling in the Air, or Hundreds or Thousands of Birds Heading in One Direction, Usually Denotes a Migration
Have You Seen Migrations?
© 2014 Deb Hirt