Bird list & other natural events, June 2011

June was a good month here. The emergence of 13-year cicadas was a natural highlight; personally we enjoyed their noise, so varied and complicated and interesting to pay close attention to. If you stood right under one of their favorite ash or walnut trees, it could be painful, but overall it was an enjoyable background soundtrack that was far preferable to the usual white noise of lawnmowers and highway traffic we get here.

Our insect populations have been very high, both predators and pests, and we’re still theorizing that’s due in part to the cicadas. They’re clearly dying off now, but I was able to observe multiple birds hunting them, and we’ll see if we see a corresponding drop in other insect populations from now on. The flowers have also continued to be nice, such as these:

Day lengths are as long as they’re going to get, making this a somewhat exhausting time of year since we effectively work dawn to dusk, with not enough darkness for down time and full sleep. Even in August, the peak of heat, night comes early enough for some recovery.
We’ve dodged any serious natural damages. Multiple rounds of severe weather have passed by without incident, leaving us with fond memories of beautiful clouds. We’ve live-trapped and relocated three raccoons so far, one of which was seriously investigating our young chicks. At some point the rifle may have to replace the trap, but we’re hoping that proactive and careful use of electric fencing will keep the raccoons where they belong, so we can leave them alone.

Our June bird count naturally dropped off significantly from May. Migration is largely past, many birds began nesting and thus were quieter and less active, and we’re so busy that we don’t notice as many. We’ve only taken one walk in our woods all month, which helps eliminate many of the forest species that are probably present but simply weren’t observed/heard, like ovenbirds. Others are in the area but don’t settle down on our place for the summer, like orioles and red-winged blackbirds. Finally, weather conditions affect some birds’ patterns: the overall dry weather in June has mostly dried up our creek, such that the once-regular kingfishers have vanished in the last few weeks, sticking to the larger waterways like Silver Fork and Perche Creek. Herons that once flew up from the stream now either visit only our pond, or are seen flying overhead but not tarrying on the farm.

We have a pair of broad-winged hawks we’re almost certain are nesting on the ridge beyond our main field; we’ve seen them coming and going regularly from this location, often carrying rodents and other small prey in their talons. I assume they’re feeding something, and one day we hope to climb the ridge and try to observe the nest. We’re thrilled to have them established here, as they’re not chicken-hunters, and hopefully their presence puts off more dangerous raptors like red-tailed hawks.

NEW THIS MONTH
No new species in June.

ALSO PRESENT (42 species)
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Red-shouldered Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk
Mourning Dove
Yellow-Billed Cuckoo
Barred Owl
Whip-poor-will
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Peewee
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
White-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tufted Titmouse
Black-cappeed Chickadee
White-breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
Wood Thrush
Brown Thrasher
Northern Parula
Louisiana Waterthrush
Kentucky Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Summer Tanager
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Indigo Bunting
Eastern Towhee
Field Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Brown-headed Cowbird
American Goldfinch

NOT OBSERVED SINCE MAY (30 species)
Wood Duck
Canada Goose
Wild Turkey
Killdeer
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Grey Catbird
Blue-winged Warbler
Ovenbird
Yellow-Breasted Chat
Tennessee Warbler
Nashville Warbler
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Black-Throated Green Warbler
White-throated Sparrow
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-winged Blackbird
Black-and-white Warbler
Swainson’s Thrush
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Baltimore Oriole
Chestnut-Sided Warbler
Eastern Kingbird
Red-eyed Vireo
American Redstart
Magnolia Warbler
Common Nighthawk
Golden-winged Warbler
Barn Swallow
Least Flycatcher

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