Here at the Mayne Island Conservancy, we have put our guided bird walks on hold for now. Birdwatching can be such a fun social activity, and we have really enjoyed the opportunity to get together and learn from one another. We will resume as soon as it’s safe to do so.

One of the great things about birding, though, is that it’s just as rewarding to do on your own (or with your partners-in-isolation). With that in mind, here’s a glimpse of some of our recent arrivals this spring (with a thank-you to local birder Tom Ediger for the dates):

March 14th: Yellow-rumped Warbler

This one is usually heard before it’s seen, and its song joined the chorus here on Mayne right on schedule this spring. There are two subspecies, the myrtle and the Audubon’s, with slightly different songs. We have both right now, though the Audubon’s is more common.

March 16: Violet-green Swallow

Violet-green swallow. Photo: Tom Ediger
Violet-green swallow. Photo: Tom Ediger

Violet-green swallows gather insects high overhead, and nest in tree cavities (and nest boxes, as long as the house wrens and starlings don’t get there first.) Right now they seem to be staying up high and out of easy view—maybe that’s where the good insects are.

March 20th: Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird
Male Rufous Hummingbird. Photo: Don Enright

We have two hummingbirds here on Mayne Island. The Anna’s stays year-round, but the rufous migrates to Mexico and back, timing its arrival with the earliest spring wildflowers. Both last year and this, we saw our first ones on the 20th of March. The males usualy arrive a few days before the females.

March 31: Orange-crowned warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler. Photo: Tom Ediger
Orange-crowned Warbler. Photo: Tom Ediger

Here’s another songbird that’s much easier to hear than to see. Its song sounds a bit like someone running their thumb down a comb. They’ll be around all summer.

Coming Soon: Purple Martins

Adult male western purple martin. Photo: Ralph K. Hocken
Adult male western purple martin. Photo: Ralph K. Hocken

The Mayne Island Conservancy helps maintain two purple martin colonies: one at Miners’ Bay and the other at Bennett Bay. This species suffered a dramatic decline in the 20th century and is now pretty much dependent on nest boxes. The martins should be here within the next week or two—they wing their way up here all the way from Brazil.

Happy socially-distanced birding, everyone. Please feel free to comment below with your recent sightings.


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