As the breeding season reaches its apex in the Myrtle Beach area, a plethora of neo-tropical migratory birds can be found engaged in seasonal duties amid their appropriate habitats.
A brief walk at Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge’s Cox Ferry Lake Recreation Area last week offered sounds and sights of a number of winged wonders.
Yellow-throated, Northern parula and Prothonotary warblers were in evidence along the swamp boardwalk, as was Acadian flycatcher. Pileated woodpecker and a barred owl called from the recesses of the swamp forest, as did a red-shouldered hawk.
Near the parking area and entrance, a male Eastern bluebird perched on a utility line was joined briefly by a female. A family of house finches was seen briefly, and orchard oriole and summer tanager songs were heard.
Along the path leading into the refuge, a male blue grosbeak darted across the way and disappeared into the adjoining vegetation. A red-headed woodpecker was heard calling from the wetland forest.
Prothonotary warblers were heard from the lakefront dock and a lone great egret made a flyby appearance. A number of our more common birds were also in evidence: red-bellied and downy woodpeckers; Northern cardinal; Eastern towhee; blue jay; common grackle; tufted titmouse; Carolina chickadee; brown-headed cowbird; gray catbird; and brown thrasher were duly noted, while the songs and calls of our state bird Carolina wren were ubiquitous.
A fair number of dragonflies were flying. Eastern pondhawks were numerous, along with a number of great blue and slaty skimmers. An ebony jewelwing damselfly was also seen. Butterflies were relatively scarce, with a few Palamedes and black swallowtails, red-spotted purple and Carolina satyr observed.
The first juvenile ruby-throated hummingbird of the season put in an appearance at my flowers and feeders last week, although its tenure was short-lived once discovered by the semi-resident adult male.
Soon hummingbird boot camp will be in full swing in the area, as youngsters vie with adults and one another for available resources. Often described as pugnacious, these tiny terrors will challenge nearly anything that moves, frequently going after other birds much larger than themselves.
The dogged persistence of these tiny avian warriors and their aerobatic maneuvering are truly amazing to observe. So remember to keep your feeders clean and maintained with a solution of one part sugar to four parts water with no other additives, and enjoy the show these miniscule marvels provide for the next several weeks as they prepare for their upcoming migratory treks.