What’s been seen: It’s been an as-expected month for the birds of Hull. Reports that came in during the first few days featured a few species that were probably still in migration and may or may not nest nearby, like Black-crowned Night-herons, Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and Orchard Orioles. Beyond that, everything is in place. The marshes are hosting the herons and egrets, the Ospreys are surveying the Weir River, songbirds are scattered up and down the peninsula, and gulls are feeding on the beaches. Just across the river, at World’s End, birders have recorded more than 50 species of birds in that one park.
What to expect: Like the dead of winter, the height of summer is a great time to focus on bird behavior. While in the shoulder seasons we try to keep pace with what’s-moving-where and catching the potentially extralimital, or vagrant, species to add to our checklists, in these seasons of stability we can linger longer with each species.
Birds in July in Hull are mostly in breeding and nesting mode. Notice what exactly they are picking up and think about why they are doing it. If it’s a feather, a stick, grass, even mud, it’s probably going to go into a nest. This is not a hard-and-fast rule for every species (crows use sticks as tools, for instance), but is usually a confirmation of breeding behavior.
If it’s a worm, an insect, fruit or vegetables (Gray Catbirds steal green cherry tomatoes from my garden), and it isn’t eaten right away, on the spot, it’s usually ticketed for the gullet of a nestling. Also, this July, watch for the first evidence of southern migration. In the waning days of the month Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and a few Great Blue Herons will start forming groups in the saltmarshes, staging for their flights to warmer places. By Aug. 15, look for mother Ospreys to head north for a brief excursion before turning back south on migration, and try to catch your final glimpses of Baltimore Orioles for the year.
Yes, the first signs of fall will be here before August arrives.