Some Summer Residents

Most of the following birds are only in Massachusetts during the summer. They come in the spring, raise a family and then head for warmer places in the fall. They are the original “Snowbirds” emulated by some humans from the northern US who head for Florida, Arizona or some other warm place in the winter.

These three birds are woodland dwellers. The Waxwings are seen sporadically in the winter, depending the available supply of berries and other food.

Some sparrows visit and some stay for the winter. The Song Sparrow (top) is here year round, while the Chipping Sparrow (bottom) migrates.

These three species were all foraging for insects in the grassy field together. They obviously migrate since the insects disappear once winter comes. Some Grackles do stay around though. They are pretty resourceful when it comes to finding food and can make it without the insects.

Two similar looking Egrets are common here in the summer. The Great Egret is bigger than the Snowy Egret so it is easy to tell them apart when they are near one another. They also hunt for food differently. But one sure way to tell which one is flying by is to look at the colors. The Great Egret has a yellow beak and black feet. It’s the opposite for the Snowy.

Another identification that can be be made by beak color involves terns. I have been posting photos of Least Terns recently since they nest on nearby beaches and are easy to find. Breeding adults have yellow beaks. The larger Common Tern has a red-orange bill.

Willets are a large sandpiper that nest in the marshes. They sometimes perch on posts, buildings, signs or small trees unlike other sandpipers.

I’ll end with a welcome summer visitor. They are colorful and eat lots of flying insects. Here’s a female Barn Swallow on her nest in the eaves of a maintenance building on the wildlife refuge.

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