COVID IS FOR THE BIRDS
Text and photos by Jefferson resident Matt Wetrich (all photos taken in his yard)
This spring was one for the record books.
With everyone spending more time at home, the popularity in bird-watching has seen major growth.
During these challenging times, it can be helpful to look for positives anywhere they can be found. More people noticing the wildlife around them is a huge positive; more people connecting the value their yard plays to wildlife is a massive positive.
The annual spring migration of birds climaxes the first two weeks of May, when it is possible to see well over 100 different species of birds in a single day.
The 2020 spring migration may be remembered as one of the most watched in history.
Whether or not you feed birds with bird feeders, you still feed birds in your yard. Dandelions are a tremendous food source. Insects are a tremendous food source. Providing these means not spraying our yards to death. These natural food sources are the best offerings we can serve up.
One of the great things about birds is that they can be convinced to hang out in our yards with just a little effort. Food and water offerings are often widely accepted by weary travelers. There is so much traveling being done through Iowa in early to mid-May, that you’d think we have a five-star Yelp review, and that Frommer’s has an entire book dedicated to what a marvelous destination/stopover locale we make.
Neotropical migrants — birds that breed in Canada and the U.S. and spend the winter in Mexico, Central America, South America or the Caribbean islands — such as warblers, tanagers, buntings, orioles and others will gladly stop in your yard for a bite to eat, a drink of water or a refreshing bath.
At my house this year, I put a small stick perch near my small watering hole pond and coined it Central Perch (shout-out to the coffeeshop in the show “Friends”).
Upwards of 40 species were seen using this strategically placed perch.
Speaking of coffee: Most of the birds that come through our yards on migration winter rainforested areas. These are often areas where coffee is grown.
If you’d like to learn how the coffee you drink in Iowa makes a difference in these birds’ lives, look up “shade grown coffee” to see how you can save their rainforest winter homes.