SCHIESS: The sound of music in the poplars

Living the Wild Life

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Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

As I stepped out the back door Tuesday morning, Julie Andrews came to mind as the poplars in my backyard were filled with the sound of music. The migrating songbirds had discovered that tiny insects had invaded the trees and were having their Thanksgiving feast before heading south.

Several species of warblers were warbling, Chipping and White-crowned sparrows were chirping, kinglets, goldfinch and nuthatches were doing their best to sing their parts while the year-around chickadees were not happy with the competition. I set up the blinds to watch the show and listen to nature at its best.

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

The insects had invaded the poplar leafs during the summer and are in the process of hatching and hundreds of birds are filling up on them. Some of the larger birds like the chickadees and Yellow-rumped warblers are also feeding on the bumper crops of wasps that are feeding on the sap of the poplars. I even watched a chickadee find a beetle and consume it. Whether it was the main course or the dessert, I couldn’t tell, but it was enjoyed.

As I watched I noticed that each species had a preferred area to work in the trees. The Yellow-rumps worked from the top of the trees to about 12 feet off the ground. Orange-crowned and Wilson’s warblers along with the Ruby-crowned kinglets were feeding from about 15 feet to about two feet off the ground while the sparrows fed on the ground and up about three or four feet. Nuthatches and chickadees were all over the place, usually upside down on some branch.

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

The chickadees and Yellow-rumps were the most aggressive as I watched those two species battle each other throughout the day. In the thick foliage it was difficult to capture those battles as they were always moving from clump to clump. The Orange-crowned and kinglets stayed close to the trunks of the trees stealthily picking off the small bugs, trying not to be noticed.

In the evening when the larger flying insects got active, the Yellow-rumps and Orange-crowned would pick the insects off by sallying over my dying garden.

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

Most of the warblers had probably nested in Alaska or Canada and have migrated with the recent storms to the Upper Snake River Valley. With the beautiful weather the past week, they have been filling their gas tank getting ready for a storm to aid them to their wintering area of Mexico and Central America.

Each day this week I have tried to spend an hour watching and photographing these beautiful birds help me get rid of some of the pesky insects. I just wish all of them would harvest the yellow jackets as they are very thick this year.

But if you have large trees in your yard and are hearing music in them and cannot find a beautiful lady leading a bunch of singing kids around; look closely at the trees. It can be very entertaining.

Bill Schiess, EastIdahoNews.com

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