Birds of Eliza Howell 2020: The Special Month of May

Having just completed my records of 2020 bird observations in Eliza Howell Park, this might be a good time to outline a report.

May is typically the month with the greatest number of species. And it was again in 2020. In fact, I recorded more species in May, 2020, than in any other month in the 16 years I have been keeping records — 96 species.

So, it is appropriate, I think, for this year’s report to feature May birds.

Among the many birds present on May was the Cape May Warbler.

Photo by Margaret Weber.

Note: All the bird pictures in this essay were taken by Margaret Weber — and all were taken in Eliza Howell Park in May, 2020.

Almost all of the warblers that are seen in Eliza Howell are migrants that pass through southeast Michigan quickly in the spring and again in the fall. This year I noted 21 different warbler species in the spring, many quite striking in their breeding pluumage.

Two more examples are Bay-breasted Warbler and

Nashville Warbler.

The total number of bird species observed in EHP last year was 118. The numbers varied a lot over the months, as they do every year, reflecting the migratory behavior of so many species: January – 24 species; February – 24; March – 39; April – 57; May – 96; June – 44; July – 42; August – 50; September – 68; October – 62; November – 34; December – 29.

While the Scarlet Tanager nests in some lacations in southern Michigan, so far my observations of it in the park have been mostly in May, when it arrives back north.

Some of the birds that spend the summer and do nest in Eliza Howell are best seen in May, when the trees are not yet covered with leaves and the males are displaying in an effort to attract females.

Baltimore Orioles are common.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks also nest here.

Another species that breeds in the park and is easier to see in May is the Great Crested Flycatcher.

In 2020 I was able to locate over 40 active bird nests, representing 22 different species.

Only a few have nests accessible enough for me to sneak a quick look at the eggs – and a quick picture – when the adult is off the nest.

Starting from top left and going clockwise: Gray Catbird, Blue Jay, American Robin, Northern Cardinal.

As I write this, I realize how difficult it is to reflect in a short posting the excitement and the learning of 12 months of bird watching and bird study. This may be one of the situations in which pictures convey so much more than words. Thanks to Margaret’s photos, some of the reality and beauty of Eliza Howell birds 2020 may show through.

4 thoughts on “Birds of Eliza Howell 2020: The Special Month of May

  1. Thank you for all of your wonderful posts. They have helped us so much this year. My boys and I were out earlier this week and the 5 yo noted that there were no birds. I advised, perhaps we were too loud and scared them. Knowing there are winter birds in the park will give us reason to visit. . . *quietly*. The quiet may be the greatest of gifts of the new year.

    Liked by 1 person

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