Editor’s note: This week’s edition of Marsh Musings is written by Karole Erikson.
Despite severe drought and absence of shorebirds at Cheyenne Bottoms, there is still plenty of chances for wildlife viewing in Central Kansas. August through October is a good time to see ruby-throated hummingbirds in backyard gardens if there are a few flowers and a hummingbird feeder.
Central Kansas is also a good place to see migrating monarch butterflies in the next six weeks or so. In our backyard garden we’ve recently had the chance to view two species of birds that are new to our backyard, a mourning warbler and a immature black-headed grosbeak. The warbler, on it’s long migration south to Texas or Mexico stopped for only a few hours to eat some bugs in our garden and take a dip in our birdbath. The mourning warbler, such a tiny bird and under brush most of the time, may go unnoticed in your backyard. Had we not been looking out our picture window watching for hummingbirds, we might not have even noticed it.
The immature black-headed grosbeak visited our sunflower seeds for an entire afternoon. It’s range is usually further west than Central Kansas. Last year, despite dry and hot conditions, we discovered a calliope hummingbird at the convent and an Inca dove in our backyard, two rare bird species for Central Kansas. Another new but returning summer resident for our backyard is the white-winged dove. If you are interested in what species of birds fly through Kansas check out http://listserv.ksu.edu/archives/ksbird-l.html . This lists by date what birds have been seen in what areas of Kansas. To see more of our backyard wildlife, check out Jay and my flickr sites http://www.flickr.com/photos/karoleerikson/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/jaydeemiller/ It is still not too late to add hummingbirds to your backyard.
To make hummingbird water, add one part plain granulated sugar to 4 parts boiling water. Cool the water and fill up a red hummingbird feeder. The water should be changed every couple of days except for temperatures above 90, then change the water every day. You won’t see as many hummingbirds as you might see in Colorado but that makes the one or two hummingbirds that do visit even more special. Happy wildlife viewing.