During the past few days, the number of ruby-throated hummingbirds visiting our feeders has noticeably decreased. Whereas less than a week ago clouds hummingbirds were constantly swirling about backyard feeders, now a handful of birds are visiting them. Indeed, the hummingbird migration is in full swing.
When most of the birds vanish at the same time, it is easy to believe they migrate in flocks like robins, ducks, geese, and a host of other species. However, the truth of the matter is each bird migrates on its own. This means a rubythroat raised in your backyard this year does not have an older and more experienced bird to guide it on its first migration flight to its wintering ground in southern Mexico and Panama.
How is this possible? Biologists have still not unlocked this secret. Consequently, the best way to explain it is that hummingbirds migrate by instinct.
Whenever an exotic plant or animal is introduced and begins expanding its population across the landscape it is often impossible to know far it will spread and what, if any, affect it will have on native species. Unfortunately, far too often foreign introductions have a deleterious impact on our native flora and fauna.
In the 17 August 2022, I provided an update on the rapid spread of the Joro spider across North Georgia. In response to the blog, Julie H. posted a thought-provoking response in which she described the impact the spider appears to be having on the some of the wild animals living on her property.
I found her comments so insightful I decided to share them with each of you. Below you will find this posting.
Blogger Julie Hemminger replied to the August 17th post…
I completely disagree with the low key/ low threat assessment of the joro spider. I live in the Hoschton area, where they were first discovered. I have lived in this home & area for 18yrs, so I have a decent long range perspective.
I am an avid gardener & love bugs, insects, etc. As a result, I notice all these wonderful creatures in my garden & enjoy them all. Unfortunately, *ever since* the joro spider began showing up in my wooded yard & garden, 8yrs ago, I no longer see the beautiful garden “writing/zig zag” spiders that I so enjoyed, or the cool orb spiders that would appear in the fall, or many other delightful small spiders.
The joro spiders are highly invasive in my observation. It has been at least 7yrs since I’ve seen the garden writing spider! I’m not mixing them up either. To me, it’s very easy to tell the diff btwn the garden & the joro spider, even though many people do get those 2 spiders mixed up. The easiest way is the joro spider has a red dot on it’s underside, the garden spider does not.
This June ‘22 summer, I killed a joro spider up in WNC, @ Lake Santeetlah, near Robbinsville, NC – when we there vacationing. I was angry to see it now in NC. I will kill every joro spider I see. They have thrown off the spider status quo in our area where they first appeared. They’re just about the only spider you ever see now & that does not appear to be a good sign at all. Everything in our environment needs balance. There is no balance with the joro.
Each year a pair of chimney swifts nests in our chimney. We are never sure when they begin building their nest or begin incubating a clutch of anywhere from two to seven eggs. In fact, throughout most of their time with us, aside from seeing them flying into the chimney at dusk, we would never know they were roosting and nesting in our chimney. In fact, it is only after the young have hatched do we begin hearing twittering sounds coming down the chimney.
In spite of the fact that chimney swifts live in close proximity to humans, we know very little about them. This is large because they spend their days flying about catching insects. In addition, they nest in chimneys that are often difficult to monitor.
For that reason, it is not surprising that my wife and I do not know when they begin nesting. If the birds that nest in our chimney are typical, both the male and female build the nest, incubate a clutch of two to seven eggs, and feed the young. At times, an unmated adult will serve as a helper.
The eggs are incubated anywhere from 16-21 days. When the young hatch, they grow rapidly. When the youngsters are around 20 days old some tend to get a little rambunctious and flap their wings while standing on the edge of the nest. Some will even crawl out of the nest and hang on the inside of the chimney.
Finally, when they fledge and leave the safety of the chimney, they form small groups of other fledglings and adults, which eventually form larger flocks before migrating to South America.
The only time we know the young are in our chimney is when the parents return to feed them. On such occasions, they begin rapidly twittering. These sounds increase in volume as they grow. Sometimes we will even hear them begin chattering when we hear a loud clap of thunder during the night.
The sounds are never annoying. In fact, it is pleasing to hear these sounds of nature filtering down our chimney rather than the loud sounds made by vehicles passing in front of our home.
Consequently, when we stopped hearing the twittering of the chimney swifts this past week, we knew they had fledged. Each day since, we have listened in vain for their calling. We now realize we must wait until next summer to be the proud hosts of another family of chimney swifts.
When they departed, I wish they could have taken some of the highway noise with them.