Sunday, May 18, 2014

Migrant Songbirds at Work in the Woods and a Few Favorite Spring Wildflowers

Male Scarlet Tanager in the old woods
Migrant songbirds are still plentiful in our old woods. For more than a week now, I have been finding a great assortment of warblers, vireos, thrushes and other neotropical types. Some like the Scarlet Tanager will stay to breed while most others will continue north to the boreal forests of the Adirondacks and Canada. One of the reasons the migrants are lingering is the all-you-can-eat feast being provided by foliage-eating caterpillars. A quick examination of some freshly unfurled maple and beech leaves revealed many small green caterpillars - all methodically munching away. I'm afraid that most are larvae of the Winter Moth - an introduced species that is known to cause great damage to deciduous trees.  The songbirds are doing what they can for now to control them and hopefully, they be on the job for a while longer.
The Blue-headed Vireo looks like it's wearing a pair of white-rimmed spectacles 
A male Northern Parula Warbler inspects Beech leaf buds for caterpillars
Prairie Warblers are fairly unusual visitors in our neck of the woods
A juvenile Black & White Warbler looks for insects lurking on the bark of trees
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have also been feasting on the emerging caterpillars
A female Wood Thrush was busy building a nest on a Hemlock bough

Female and male Bay-breasted Warblers look for caterpillars high up in the tree canopy
A Wood Thrush hunts for insects on the ground
Eastern Chipmunks are very common in the woods this spring - a result of last fall's bumper crop of seeds and nuts
Foam Flower came into full bloom this week
Jack-in-the-Pulpits are also found in the old woods
Sweet White Violets covered the ground in some woodland clearings

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