I am guessing that many people are noticing nature more this spring than previous ones. I think that can happen when we are required to slow down. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching the paper birch tree in my front yard and I’ve been amazed at the variety of wildlife that visits it.
I’ve mostly noticed feathered visitors. A few weeks ago, there were several kinglets flitting about high in the tree. I saw both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets and they were constantly moving to catch insects and spiders.
Around the same time as the kinglets, I observed a brown creeper on the tree. This bird has a sweet little song and is interesting to watch forage for food. They use their beak to probe around the tree bark for insects and other invertebrates. As they look for food, they creep up the trunk of the tree, starting from the base and work their way up. Once near the top, they fly to the bottom of another trunk or back to the base of the same tree, to start over again.
One morning, the tree seemed to be dripping with pine warblers and yellow-rumped warblers. Both species were busy looking for insects to eat, perhaps refueling after a long night of migrating. The yellow-rumped warbler can be identified by its name – it has a yellow rump which is noticeable when the bird flies. The palm warbler has a rusty cap and often bobs its tail.
Woodpeckers don’t seem to visit the tree often. This is probably a good thing and may indicate the tree is fairly healthy and not infested with bugs. One day I did notice a downy woodpecker, but it quickly flew off to a different tree that had some dead limbs.
Some of the more regular guests to the birch tree include chickadees, goldfinches, house finches and robins. I especially notice one robin in the early morning when I am enjoying my coffee. As the sun begins to rise (and even before), I hear his dawn song. This is a quick, continuous song that goes on for some time. If I step outside, there is an entire chorus of robins singing around the neighborhood.
There have also been a couple of non-feathered visitors to the birch. I’ve seen a gray squirrel and a chipmunk both scurry up the tree when I open the door to go outside. The chipmunk scolds me, making high-pitched chipping noises as it runs away. Once in the safety of the tree, the chipmunk will stare at me and make repeated chucking sounds.
A pair of Baltimore orioles were the most recent visitors. They had been feeding on my oriole feeder stocked with grape jelly and fresh oranges. What a treat to see this colorful sign of spring!
I am sure there were many other visitors, especially invertebrates, to the birch tree over the last several weeks. It’s interesting how one tree can provide shelter and food for such an array of wildlife.
Attached photo is from the USF&W media library