Spring migration is on

“I call this meeting of the Bird Feeder Society to order!” says the local Red-winged Blackbird to the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Indigo Bunting stopping in Cameron on their way north. The spring migration is in full swing, with many colorful birds passing through the parish. Also visiting are hummingbirds, orioles, tanagers, warblers, and many other species that depend on the coastal woods and friendly homeowners for nourishment and rest after the long flight over the Gulf of Mexico. (Photo by Cyndi Sellers.)

By Cyndi Sellers

The annual spring migration of neo-tropical birds is in full swing, and thousands of colorful birds are showing up in Cameron Parish, brightening our world for a little while. The migration typically begins in mid-March, but peaks around the last week of April. A strong cold front over the past weekend forced many migrants to land along the coast, exhausted from fighting the north wind as they crossed the Gulf.

Many folks have been delighted to see the tiny, bright, metallic blue Indigo Buntings along fence rows and in backyards. A few Painted Buntings, shy, secretive, multicolored birds, have been spotted. Orange Baltimore and Orchard Orioles, bright red Scarlet and Summer Tanagers, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks with their red chests and black and white coats, Blue Grosbeaks, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and warblers of every color have filled our coastal woods and residential trees.

The migration usually brings a swarm of birders to the parish, but this year many are choosing to stay home and keep socially distancing because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those that are visiting do so individually and cautiously.

The semi-annual meeting of the Louisiana Ornithological Society which was set for this weekend in Hackberry was cancelled, so the big one day count of Cameron Parish birds will not take place. Instead, a statewide weekend at-home bird count will be collected. Another cold front this weekend might bring in more birds to backyards that have feeders and water available.

Remember, hummingbird feeders need to be changed and cleaned every few days in warm weather to keep the contents from spoiling and making the birds sick. Red food coloring is not good for the birds, so use a mix of one part sugar to four parts boiled water. As long as the feeder is red, as most are, the birds will find it just fine.

All birds appreciate a birdbath or shallow container of clean water to drink and bathe in. Having one in your yard will make it more attractive to migrants and residents. Different birds like different kinds of food. Garden centers and big box hardware stores have a variety in stock. Many spring migrants love mulberries and blackberries, which ripen just at this time, and hummingbirds love red, trumpet shaped flowers. Bottle Brush trees now in bloom are also attractive to hummers and orioles.