Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
Common Grackles are back our feeders. We rarely see them in spring or the middle days of summer. They wait until fall approaches. If robins are the signs of spring, perhaps grackles fill that role for fall. Grackles eat a lot of seed. They sit on the feeder trays, the perches too short to be comfortable for them. Removing the trays discourages them. I don’t do that, though, unless we get a flock of grackles. There were half a dozen this morning (Aug. 13), so, no problem. We’ve had dozens of them at one time. They empty feeders quickly, and keep regular bird visitors away.
Warblers are migrating, too. This past weekend at Lutsen, we watched warblers move through spruce trees, feeding as they leisurely moved south. Half of the warblers we saw were Cape Mays. Interesting that one species was so dominate.
Chimney Swifts also are prepping for the seasonal change. They are beginning to flock up in the evening, choosing a chimney for mass roosting at night. There might be such a chimney in your neighborhood. At heavy twilight, just before it is too dark to see, check a large chimney. Schools are good. Chimney Swifts are not hard to find during breeding season, if you keep watching the sky, particularly at dusk. Swifts hunt airborne insects, feeding exclusively in the air. Now is the time, though, to watch the swift show, dozens or hundreds of birds circling, then pouring into a chimney, gone, like magic.
The photos show swifts at a chimney, and two swifts in hand. The long claws on their toes allow them to cling to rough surfaces. The spines on their tail feathers help support them.
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