’Tis the season to begin thinking hummingbirds, specifically ruby-throated hummingbirds, which will be arriving in the Berkshires and southern Vermont beginning in less than three weeks.
And what better way to celebrate their arrival than a welcome home party for the little hummers? Join other bird and nature enthusiasts at your convenience on Saturday, April 26, from 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., at Wild Birds Country Store, 783 South Main St., Great Barrington, for day-long information about attracting and feeding our smallest local birds.
In addition, Faith Connolly, a licensed animal rehabilitator, and president of Pet Partners of the Tri-State Berkshires, a not for profit organization, will discuss proper care of turtles and the near-extinction of 12 turtle species from 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Nicholas Boardman, 12, of Sheffield hopes to fill his mom’s truck, parked at the store (for the third year) with donated dog and cat food, collars, paper towels and related supplies for the Berkshire Humane Society. I’m told there will be free refreshments, too.
While every day should be Earth Day, one day a year is better than none, and one way to celebrate it is to get out and join one of the many clean-up parties or hikes planned.
Catching my attention is the free Earth Day Phenology Walk on April 22, from 4 to 6 p.m., to introduce visitors to the Great Barrington Phenology Trail, along Threemile Hill Trail, with a few stops along the way, highlighting the seasonal changes occurring in the resident flora and fauna.
Phenology, by the way, for those among us who don’t know, is the study of seasons and we are right now in a major seasonal change, and the most exciting time of the year to be in woods and forest.
Learn how to be a citizen scientists, contributing observations to a national scientific database. Explore www.naturesnote book.org prior to the hike for some background. Meet at the Berkshire South Regional Community Center pavilion. With questions email firstname.lastname@example.org et.
Q: Is it too late to continue feeding birds? And besides the bears, is there any real reason to stop feeding? Does it disrupt their migration?
-- Phillip, Cheshire
A: If you are not in an area that is patrolled by bruins, feeding now is fine, but certainly not as helpful as during the winter months. Birds, unlike bears, are not governed by their bellies and when the time comes to migrate, they will.
I have received reports of bears this past winter stealing bird feeders over Christmas, in January and late February and of course March. For the sake of less weeds this summer, it is a good idea to stop feeding wild birds now, so that they will be more inclined to finish eating weed seeds.
Q: We have a bluebird house that has two different birds trying to nest. One is the bluebird and the other a bird that is black on top and white below. Any idea what it is? Any guess which will win?
-- Billy, Sheffield
A: Your unknown bird is the tree swallow, a prize-winning aerialist that actually has an iridescent deep-blue back and a pure white undersides. The pair, if they win the battle, will spend their time here criss-crossing your yard catching flying insects. They are not fussy and will feed on gnats, tinier than a grain of sand, to 2-inch dragonflies! Like bluebirds, they formerly nested in hollow trees, and still do when lucky enough to find one.
Questions and comments for Thom Smith: Email Naturewatch@live.com