The best of the rest is yet to come!
Fall migration has begun. Large black clouds of seabirds are busy flying back and forth over the ocean feeding and preparing for their long trek south. Shorebirds are making their way to our beaches to feed and rest before continuing south to their wintering grounds. Clouds of them are now wheeling over the ocean waves. Most are sanderlings, but there are also plenty of other species that will stop by on their way south. Dunlin, western sandpipers, black-bellied plover, and semi-palmated plover will be on view over the next month and a half.
Migrating waterfowl, a plenty, will soon be coming to the Peninsula in large numbers because our area is an important stopping and gathering point for their migration. Watch for northern pintails, gadwall, American wigeon, green-winged teal, northern shovellers, mallards and ring-necked ducks. The most numerous will be the northern pintail. Now is the time to begin looking for these migrants in fresh water ponds, marshes and more specifically, on Willapa Bay and on the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge.
It is also time to remember to prepare for those birds who will join us in the fall and stay with us for the winter months. As I have written before, leave a brush pile for cover, forget about raking the lawn until spring, leave the plants that have gone to seed for the seed eaters of winter and leave some berries on the native plants and shrubs for those who prefer fruit.
If they haven’t already arrived, it won’t be long before the golden-crowned sparrows return and the spotted towhees will show a greater presence and frequent our feeders. The King Tides will return in the new year bringing large numbers of waterfowl and shorebirds closer in. The raptors will be in their glory when this happens. Dinner will be served!
And perhaps it is time to clean the feeders and fill them with small black sunflower seed, peanuts, safflower or niger seed. The rufous hummingbirds will soon be gone, only to return next spring, but the Anna’s hummingbird will stay with us. They will depend on us to supplement their preferred diet of insects and nectar during the colder months when the latter are not as plentiful as they are in spring and summer.
Another reminder for the coming fall and winter is to remember the birds need for water. Daily clean water is a must if you want to help the birds. Providing a good supply of it also ensures entertainment galore. Entertainment, I think, is an important consideration given the fact that we will probably still be frequently washing our hands, wearing masks and staying our distance from others. In addition, observing bird behavior is great way to learn more about our feathered friends. Staying in will not be so bad if we let the birds and their antics into our lives on a daily basis. They can lift up our spirits and give us hope for a better tomorrow. Nature has a way of healing everything. Happy birding!
”Common Birds of the Long Beach Peninsula,” by Kalbach and Stauffer, is available from the Bay Avenue Gallery, Time Enough Books and the Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau.