Summer Bird Watching

There are lots of kinds of birds around here. All winter into early spring I go looking for them. Summer bird watching is not the same.

From late fall all the way into early spring the trees are bare. Birds hop along and sit on the branches. With a little patience a birdwatcher can spot and watch them.

The problem with this is migration. Many kinds of birds fly south for the winter. That leaves the winter birds: cardinals; red bellied, pileated and Downy woodpeckers; various hawks and owls; and morning doves. Some winter visitors arrive: the juncos, fox sparrows, chickadees and nuthatches.

morning doves
Before the black walnut leafs out, the lines of morning doves waiting for seeds to appear on the bird feeder are easy to see.

Starting in February the migrants return. Turkey vultures soar across the sky. Blue jays hog the bird feeder. Several finches show up.

So many kinds of birds move back bird watching becomes interesting. Bird songs come from every direction.

Then the trees leaf out.

Bird songs still sound from all around. Birds flit from tree to tree. They disappear into the leaves.

Summer bird watching is frustrating.

A bird calls from a tree. I stand scanning every branch or where I assume a branch is. And the bird remains invisible or flicks a tail into view only to vanish again.

Seeing a bird in summer takes luck. Getting a picture of a bird in summer is even harder.

summer bird watching of a kingbird
Kingbirds eat flying insects. They perch watching for one going by and swoop down to catch it. The white bar at the end of the tail makes identification easy.

There are a few exceptions. Flycatchers and king birds sit on the pasture fence wires diving off after insects flying by. Barn swallows swoop over the pastures.

The best place to do summer bird watching is the bird feeder. First come the morning doves. Blue jays, titmice, cardinals and goldfinches follow. Brown headed cowbirds take the place over for a time.

Woodpeckers work on the suet cake. Red bellied ones swoop in and plop onto the cake cage. Downey woodpeckers land on the posts and climb up until they see the cake is available.

If it weren’t for the bird feeder, summer bird watching would not happen.

More about feeding wild birds is in “Exploring the Ozark Hills“.