Thom Smith | Naturewatch: Readers report on arrival of spring birds


A few years ago, I began telling readers to get their hummingbird feeders out by the beginning of May. In 1955, the expected arrival date in Massachusetts was May 10 through early June. And there was only one species east of the Mississippi, the ruby-throated humming bird. Now, while apparently the ruby-throated is the only known hummingbird to nest in the commonwealth, six species have been recorded in Massachusetts: Ruby-throated hummingbird, Black-chinned hummingbird, rufous hummingbird, Allen's hummingbird, calliope hummingbird and broad-billed hummingbird.

For hummingbird migration, go to hummingbirdcentral.com for up-to-date northern movement of these spectacular birds. As of the May 7 update, these tiny birds have made it well past the Berkshires and are now in Ottawa, Montreal and Nova Scotia.

Recent reports of hummingbirds and other birds have been reported by readers:

May 3 — First hummer just arrived. Yesterday, we had a female Baltimore oriole, but haven't seen her today. She was on the suet feeder, which is mostly a big block of seeds held together with a little suet. Holly was over the moon (she was born in Baltimore) and put out oranges for the oriole, but alas she hasn't returned. [Many] bright goldfinches and I think I saw a couple of pine siskins mixed in also. I also got a fleeting glance at what I believe was an immature male rose-breasted grosbeak. Are they here yet? I didn't get a good look and we do have purple finches, but it seemed larger than a finch. Kestrels are still on Route 8A as of last week, but I haven't seen one in a couple of days.

— Paul, Windsor

May 6 — I forgot all about my hummingbirds [this spring]. My daughter gave me a Million Bells plant for Mother's Day, which I put [inside] of the southern slider waiting for nice weather. Around 7 tonight, a hummingbird came to the slider trying to get at the plant. I put the plant out on the deck and made solution that I will put out tomorrow.

— Nancy, Stockbridge

May 6 — Confirming the rose-breasted grosbeak; we have a few males here in glorious color.

— Paul, Windsor

Rose-breasted grosbeaks arrive around the beginning of May, although occasionally as early as mid-April (17th).

— Thom Smith

May 6 — First hummer of the season, and daily visits from four orioles.

— Barbara, Lee

As I have not been out looking for arrivals this spring, I cannot say for sure, but migrations are more numerous when the spring birds have a tail wind.

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— Thom Smith


Jim C. of Pittsfield sent two images of a seed feeder with its top corner chomped away and commented that it is too large for a squirrel. Could it be a bear? At first, I thought it may be the result of a hungry bear finding a feeder full of seed. Upon closer inspection of the images enlarged, I noticed it looked more like the nibbling of a gray squirrel rather than damage a bear would make. A bear would have caused far more damage.


Join a celebration to help raise support for The Old Mill Trail, along the banks of the Housatonic River in Hinsdale and Dalton, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, June 9.

This all-ages summer party will celebrate and generate support for ongoing care of this haven for strolling, wading, fishing and a new interpretive trail experience.

Drop by for guided walks, fishing (anglers 15 years and older must be licensed), live music, and good eats.

The Housatonic Philharmonic, Paul Rice, Andy Gordon and Tim Gray, will set the trailhead atmosphere with fiddle, guitar, banjo, spoons, piano, penny whistle, hammer dulcimer, and other sounds. Food and soft drinks will be available from the Hinsdale Trading Company.

The party is free to attend, and everyone is welcome. Donations may be made to the Berkshire Natural Resource Council for upgrades and upkeep on the Old Mill Trail before, during or after the event, at bnrc.org/donate.

Register in advance, to help us plan for the day, email rmontone@bnrc.org or call 413-499-0596. You are also welcome to pop in unannounced.

From the center of Dalton, take Route 8 south to the Hinsdale line. From the town line, continue 4/10 miles to a left on Old Dalton Road. The trailhead parking is the first, immediate left.


The sad news is ... in a United Nations report, scientists have revealed one million species are at risk of extinction.

And on a brighter side ... the federal government's plans to expand offshore drilling have been postponed. The delay is largely due to a recent court decision upholding protection in parts of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. While this news is encouraging, a delay doesn't mean our fight is over. Keep the pressure up.

Thom Smith welcomes readers' comments and questions. Email him at Naturewatch@live.com.


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