Mid-May Brings Western Tanagers and Many Other Migrants
Reports have been pouring in of sightings of Western Tanagers, Summer Tanagers, Lazuli Buntings, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Evening Grosbeaks. Also, Green-tailed Towhees, Bullock’s Orioles and Scott’s Orioles, and loads of Black-chinned and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds….. The list goes on. Every May, about this time, I write about the fantastic variety of birds coming through the Santa Fe area. Some will stick around to nest and others are passing through. Either way, right now is the best time of the year to attract the widest variety of birds to your backyards. Here’s how:
Western Tanagers are everywhere right now and they are easy to attract. Far fewer Summer Tanagers and Hepatic Tanagers are around but they may be attracted in the same ways. Tanagers love suet cylinders, oranges, grape jelly and will come to nectar and even seed cylinders. We’ve even had reports of them eating suet from tray feeders. Sometimes we have lots of Western Tanagers all May long but sometimes not. So don’t delay in putting out food that will attract these gorgeous birds.
Orioles also love oranges, jelly and nectar and right now is the best time to see them in your backyard. Some area birders see orioles all summer but many of the Bullock’s and Scott’s Orioles we see now are heading further north.
Grosbeaks love sunflower seeds and seed cylinders. The really cool thing right now is that were getting three types of grosbeaks at the same time. It’s common to see Black-headed Grosbeaks right now, they will be here all summer, but Evening Grosbeaks and the unusual Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are less common and won’t be around for long.
Green-tailed Towhees and other ground feeding migrants like White-crowned and Chipping Sparrows like to eat on the ground and can be seen under feeders eating food that has dropped to the ground. White millet is a favorite of ground feeding birds.
Hummingbirds are numerous and eat nectar from the flowers in your backyard, insects, and sugar water in your hummingbird feeders. We’ve heard from many of you about the lengths you all went to during the snowstorm two weeks ago to help hummingbirds. Lots of you brushed snow off of your feeders every hour or so to keep feeders available to hungry hummers. Others literally held umbrellas over feeders so that the hummers could eat during the worst of the snow. A late snowstorm, like the one we saw two weeks ago, is particularly harmful to hummingbirds because not only do feeders and nectar flowers get covered and inaccessible but insects disappear. Thankfully it was short-lived and warm weather and access to food came back quickly.