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A Bird’s View from Winds Way | The Nesting Season

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May 27, 2020

Nancy Gilbert

Nancy shares her love of our feathered friends in a new monthly column.

By the time you read this, the annual spring migration will be winding to a close. Located as we are on the Atlantic Flyway, one of the true joys of spring is watching and listening for migrating song birds, warblers and shore birds to return to nest and raise their young or to rest and refuel before heading further north.

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photo by Richard Wines

While May brings thousands of avian visitors to our shores, woodlands and fields, there is still much to see. The Osprey returned to the North Fork in mid-March and our resident couple is now feeding young. The babies aren’t big enough to be seen yet, but they should be visible in a week or so. And I’ve seen Robins, Cardinals, and Catbirds happily building nests despite the recent chilly wet weather. Please remember that June is nesting season and birds are engaged in the serious and delicate business of laying eggs and raising young. It is important to respect their need for privacy and non-intrusion.

As you know, the Robins are opportunistic migrators and many stay here all winter. Cardinals are year-round companions, as are many of the cavity nesters – woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Carolina Wrens. The White-Throated sparrows have left for the north along with Juncos, but Chipping Sparrows have arrived to take their place. Keep on the look out for Yellow Warblers. The males are bright yellow with red stripes on their breast and are easy to spot and to hear. They nest here and will remain until late summer. And of course, House Wrens are back and watching their antics will entertain you throughout the summer.

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photo by Richard Wines

We had our first kayak adventure last weekend and were lucky enough to see a Piping Plover and both Least and Common Terns nesting on our local beach. It is critical to respect the fencing and enclosures put up to protect these birds from predators and inadvertent harm from dogs and beach walkers. Luck was with us as we also spotted a large group of Ruddy Turnstones in full breeding plumage. They’re headed to the high artic tundra to nest and we won’t see them again until they head back south in late summer.

Want more birds to visit your yard and garden? Plant native plants to provide food and nesting sites, don’t use insecticides or herbicides (99% of a baby bird’s diet is composed of insects!), keep cats indoors, and most importantly, provide a bird bath that is easily seen from inside your house. You’ll be amazed at who you can spot taking a bath! And keep your birding guide close at hand so you can identify the many beautiful and varied visitors you will attract.

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photo by Richard Wines

About the Author

Nancy Gilbert is a board member and a conservation easement donor — as well as avid bird enthusiast and master gardener. In December 2001, Nancy and her husband Richard Wines, donated a conservation easement to the Trust on their property, Winds Way, in Jamesport. This easement protects 9.9 acres of agricultural land as well as 1.7 acres of scenic beachfront woodlands and wetlands on Great Peconic Bay. Also protected by the easement are the facades of the historic buildings located within the 3.2-acre development area, including a Greek-Revival residence, an historic barn, and a mid-19th century one-room schoolhouse. You can learn more about Winds Way and its history on their website: windswayfarm.com

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