HUMMINGBIRDS

Berkshire County residents have reported seeing hummingbirds returning to the area.

The hummingbirds appear to be right on time, with a few early arrivals. 

NatureWatch readers have reported sightings in these towns, on the following dates: 

April 22 (Earliest thus far) — Williamstown, Michael W.

April 27 — Dalton, Libby W.

April 28 — Windsor, Holly

April 29 — Hancock, Eileen G.; Housatonic, Chuck L.; Tyringham, no name

April 30 — Alford, Tim and Jean R.

May 1 — Dalton, Christine C.; Hancock, Vikki F.; Lanesborough, Hank G.; Pittsfield, Patricia W.; Williamstown, Kathleen M.; (no town), Nancy M.

May 2 — Adams, Paul S.; Dalton, Linda W.; Glendale, Paul C.;  Lanesborough, Liz S.; Peru, Debbie E. and Kathi C.; West Stockbridge, Jeff S.

May 3 — Dalton, Henry R.; Pittsfield, Brenda L. and Paula S.; Richmond — Kim M.; Stockbridge, Nancy G.

QUESTIONS FROM READERS

Q: We have a problem very early in the morning — what I assume is a bird pecking at our gutter over our bedroom. I get my broom and tap it out my bathroom window as we live in a ranch home. Do you think there is a nest up there?

— Paula R.

A: I suspect that it is a woodpecker using your rain gutter(s) as a sounding board to amplify its attempt to attract a mate or to announce its territory. In much earlier times, woodpeckers often searched out hollow trees that would better intensify their “drumming” to advertise their territory or at this season to attract a mate. Usually, the males initiate the drumming, but females are known to answer back also by drumming.

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Drumming is the woodpecker’s song. And to this end, they will drum on stop signs, metal posts, flag poles and, now, even TV satellite dishes. In the early days of television, they would drum on rooftop antennas. And pity the homeowner with a metal roof that the amorous male woodpecker has discovered.

When we lived next to Dalton’s Main Street Cemetery, we had to put up with a woodpecker drumming on the No Dogs Allowed sign inside the Willis Street entrance.

Q: We have a robin that keeps repeatedly crashing into our window, literally dozens of times per day. Any suggestions on how to stop it?

— Michael F.

Q: Why do small sparrows keep attacking our side-view mirror on the driver’s side? It is only when the car is in the driveway.

— Peter, North Adams

A: About the same time as hummingbird arrivals, I get questions about birds repeatedly smashing into windows. And it seems that most often, it is an American robin or the northern cardinal, although, sometimes it is a song sparrow. Just be happy it is not a wild turkey!

First, do not bother purchasing plastic owls or snakes. They will not help one bit. And don’t confuse these ideas for preventing birds from one-time collisions. The idea is to stop the reflection for birds nesting nearby.

I suggest Glass Wax applied and left on all windows that bother the species during the nesting season. Other suggestions are to hang cloth screening over the window, or if you have outside blinds, close them. Temporarily suspend painter’s lightweight plastic drop cloth over the windows. Or be inventive and come up with your ideas for covering up a window temporarily.

Not only do windows reflect and cause bird attacks, but automobile hubcaps, bumpers and side-view mirrors. As for the mirrors, a bag over the protrusion will stop that and a quick coating of car wax will protect the shiny wheel adornments. The song sparrow is often noted for this and probably is nesting in a nearby shrub along the driveway. The bird, and most often the male, sees its reflection and tries its best to chase itself away, thinking it is an intruder. Another idea is if you only have a mirror on the driver’s side, rather than pull in, back in.

Q: What would have filled a new birdhouse to the top with branches so nothing can get in or out? I was hoping to have bluebirds. Nothing can even get in now.

— Marie, Stockbridge

A: There is only one bird that I know of, and that is the tiny house wren. The species will cut down on competition by doing its best to destroy other bird’s nests, even if it means filling a nest box with twigs.

Thom Smith, NatureWatch columnist. Email him at naturewatch41@gmail.com or write him care of The Berkshire Eagle, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.