In last week's article I mentioned five species of birds that breed in our county during the summer months. This week I would like to conclude this topic with five more of the 139 birds that have been recorded as nesting in our county.
Choosing such a small number from the total breeders seems unfair to the birds not included, but I will hopefully over time resolve that problem. The birds I plan to discuss this week are: the Black-billed Cuckoo, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, House Wren, Red-winged Blackbird and the Yellow Warbler.
Starting with the Black-billed Cuckoo, a strange bird to begin with as it is not the most common of this group, is an interesting bird in our area with an unusual call. The Back-billed is more widespread in our state than its southern relative the Yellow-billed Cuckoo. However, records maintained from the old Chautauqua County Bird Hotline indicated that the Black-billed was annually reported from mid-May to the second week of August, while the Yellow-billed was sighted from the second week of May to the first week of September, indicating a difference in county and state data. This discrepancy could be associated with geographic terrain and meteorological conditions.
Another common bird of summer in our county is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a favorite of many local and non-local residents, especially children. This little bird is usually sighted between mid-April and the second week of October. This popular little female I included in today's photo starts building a cup like nest in late May about 10 to 20 feet above ground. Preferring orchards located in more densely human populated habitats they seem to be attracted to areas if your garden has a good number of annual, perennial, and shrub plants containing a rich supply of red flowers.
Another popular local bird, the House Wren, usually observed from mid-March to the beginning of October is another popular bird in our backyards. As I type this article, I am listening to a House Wren giving its warbling song as it perches outside its bird house built by a young friend, Cassidy Furman, as a school project.
The Red-winged Blackbird, has, in my opinion, matched the American Robin as one of the leading harbingers of spring. Data, such as this gathered on birds of our county over the years have changed pre-notions about dates of arrival, departure and nesting.
With the advent of the daily hotline I created years ago, we have pieced together fairly specific information on the arrival, departure and nesting habits of the birds of the Chautauqua County region. This is in addition to the breeding and nesting data that was collected several times a few years ago through the efforts of two New York state breeding bird studies sponsored by Cornell University that many of our local and state persons participated in.
The last member of this group is the little Yellow Warbler. This is a small bird that is found arriving during the fourth or fifth week of April, and is observed nesting and departing for its southern home from our area during the second week of October.
When discussing the aspect of observing these birds, we have to include the element of plumage change. At the time many of these birds leave their winter home before arriving back here to breed and nest here in our county, their plumage color changes from a drab appearance to the new attractive coloration, particularly in the male of most species that entices the reproductive process necessary for the continuation of that species. This physical process can produce some odd and strange appearances in some of the male birds creating an element of identification confusion, so be aware of it and be prepared with a field guide to assist in the identification process.
Lastly, please submit article ideas, photographs and requests for topics to me at 38 Elm St. Fredonia N.Y. 14063, or you can get them to me by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.