At 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 3rd, we observed our first male Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at our back porch feeder. You just know it is finally spring when the hummers return. He looks healthy and weighs about 2.3 pounds; perhaps he was eating a high sugar diet over the winter.
(The last sentence in the first column was written by Linda while I was away from the computer. I decided to leave it in).
We also had our first Baltimore oriole sighting the same day. I was upstairs when I heard that unmistakable song. Sure enough it was an oriole. He landed on the nyger seed feeder then flew over to the brand new oriole feeder that we just purchased last week. Interestingly, in 2014 we had our initial sightings of both birds on Friday, May 2nd.
Did you know that bird watching is the number 1 hobby in the United States? It makes perfect sense in many ways. First it is much fun and secondly each bird species is unique in not only their plumage but also their feeding, perching and nesting habits.
In addition, many birds do not migrate but stay in the area all year long. My friend Charlie Fox of the Mount Pisgah county park area, and the only person from Bradford County to ever sit on the Pennsylvania Game Commission Board of Commissioners told me last year that a PGC biologist told him that migration patterns in some species are changing from the normal north to south to east to west. I found that information quite interesting.
To get started in bird watching, all one needs is some time, a decent pair of binoculars and a few bird books. I suggest that you consult a person who enjoys bird watching for some tips on their gear. Buy the best binocular that you can afford; you will not be sorry that you did.
I can recommend a few birding books to you. The Peterson Field Guides are just great. You can get the entire series including the fold out Flash Guides, the small First Guides book and the larger Field Guides version.
The newest book that I just purchased last year is the Birds of Pennsylvania. I ordered it though the Pennsylvania Game Commission is it is now my favorite reference guide. Sale price is only $21.95 and is worth every bit of the price.
When you really get good at bird identification, knowing their songs just increases the experience. God has given us a lot; we just have to take the time to enjoy it.
Jim Collins is an outdoor writer for this newspaper. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org; or write to him at Outdoors With Jim Collins, 87 Windfall Road, Alba, PA 16910.