May Is When We Say Goodbye To Our Winter Residents.

Not just people, but the painted buntings, indigo buntings, warblers, hummingbirds and others that have been here since October.

The male buntings are in full breeding color and will travel up to North Florida and beyond to breed and spend the summer. Since the fall I have watched young painted buntings gradually change from their first year green to the beautiful red, blue and green of the adult. The young indigo bunting males have changed from drab brown to shiny blue.

Unusual Migrants are moving through the area too. A female rose-breasted grosbeak, which looks like a large brown and white sparrow, was on our feeder April 17. The males are red, black and white; can’t wait to see one. Try the Audubon Park brand,” Wild Finch Blend” to attract buntings and other seed eaters. You can find it at Albertsons.

Purple martins are still around, yet they have completed nesting here. Their nest boxes should be set out in early February in an open area, such as next to a lake. It is exhilarating to watch these birds dive after insects; too bad they don’t eat mosquitoes.

For the first time, a sandhill crane flew over our property on its way from Winston Trails to The Links golf course in Boynton Beach. Both sites have large lakes where the cranes and other water birds can hunt for food. This is a hint from nature that these beautiful birds might breed along the edge of our community lakes, rather than just pass through, if more native aquatic plants occurred there. Sandhill cranes are four feet tall, gray with a red cap, and have a loud, resonant, rattling call that can be heard for at least a mile away. When they fly overhead their neck is held out straight.

Picture this: Groves of cypress, red maple, pond apple and wetland shrubs planted along lake edges with spikerush, which the cranes mound up to make their nests, bulrushes, pickerelweed, and duckpotato mixed in. These plants provide the cover and start of the food chain that supports our wading birds. Just go to Green Cay Wetlands in Boynton Beach to see how much wildlife this environment can attract.

Don’t forget to supply a water source for our remaining birds such as the cardinals and bluejays. They will be nesting soon and can use the help.