Monday, February 18, 2013


 [Carolina Chickadee gleans insect eggs from the undersides of leaves, Cape May Point, NJ today.]

I've been thinking a lot about how tough winter must be for birds, and how every day it gets tougher. Consider that each day, birds are consuming food resources that for the most part are NOT being replenished now - new insects are not hatching (except perhaps a few from water bodies), new berries are not growing, new seedheads do not adorn winter plants, and will not until next fall. Every day, then, there is less food than there was yesterday. So from now until spring's resurgence of life, the gleaners must search that much harder each day for the few remaining dormant insects or eggs or spiders or whatever invertebrate food they can find. Robins work the lawns for grubs and worms when they are thawed, and pinch dry sumac berries from the shrubs when all is frozen. Late winter is a tough time of year.

Tough on birders, too. EBird counted up my day list today at 56 species, not bad, but my son Tim and I worked a lot of ground, from Two Mile Beach to Cape May Harbor to a spin around some of the streets of Cape May Point, and finally on the state park trails. And if you're trying to glean NEW species for the year, late winter seems an awfully dry time. I found no new ones today, until at the end of the day an Eastern Phoebe surprised us at Cox Hall Creek WMA, a Cape May County year bird for me. Where this bird came from is a mystery - I have to believe it came from somewhere and hasn't been there all along, given that Cox Hall is birded so regularly and phoebe has not been reported. I doubt it was a northbound migrant, but the northwest winds the past two days make it a candidate for a bird that was trying to winter even farther north that decided to retreat south.

[American Robin spots something to eat on the lawn of Cape May Point State Park.]

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