Rose-breasted Grosbeak 1800 BINNS 1D2A4685 copy

IN THE BACKYARD: Philadelphia early May

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May 13, 2020 | by Adrian Binns

At the best of times Black-billed Cuckoo is an uncommon summer breeder in our area, so you can imagine our surprise when we found one in the yard on May 1st. It was quite content in sitting still feeding on tent caterpillars in a black cherry. This was yardbird #118! Three days later we would see another one, though we would not know if it was the same individual.

Black-billed Cuckoo with tent caterpillar

Other summer arrivals included Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Baltimore Oriole and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. Two males grosbeaks have been seen regularly and a female joined them at the feeders on one day. I noticed that one of the males had a pinkish wash to the white rump, something that is rather uncommon. It is get late for Hermit Thrushes, but yet another one showed up and has been here for the last three days. It is often seen hoping around the edge of the leaf litter at the back of the yard.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak with pinkish rump

A few warblers have passed through, these being a short staying Black-and-white, Magnolia, Black-throated Green and Northern Parula, the latter two heard singing numerous times. On the other hand, Yellow-rumped Warblers (Myrtles) have been busy flitting about and singing all week, with as many as five at their peak.

Yellow-rumped (Myrtle) Warbler, male

Our first House Wren of the spring spent a morning inspecting the nest box. By early that afternoon, between bouts of singing, he was house cleaning, throwing out tiny bits of debris. By late afternoon he had attracted a female who eagerly checked out the potential abode. It is incredible how fast all that happened, given that he had only been singing for a few hours and when she appeared. We will see in time if they decide to nest there!

House Wrens

update May 1-7, 2020

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