- After the birding excitement of April and May, June
may be a letdown. During June and July, concentrate on
observing courtship and nesting behavior of resident
species in a variety of habitats. Birders who have
participated in any breeding bird atlas field work are
attuned to activities that signal courtship,
establishment of territory, nest building, or the
presence of young. Understanding that behavior adds an
extra dimension to birding during the late spring and
- Many residents sing vigorously when establishing and
maintaining territories. Use this period to learn new
songs and calls. Few people have the ability to hear
numerous bird songs and commit them to memory quickly.
For most birders, it is a process that takes time and
frequent repetition. Start with those species seen and
heard frequently. Knowing the more common songs and
variations will provide a solid base on which to
build—and it will save many a frustrating search for a
mystery songster. For the early riser, hearing the "dawn
chorus" (a period of intense singing as birds awaken) can
be an exciting experience. When trying to learn a new
song, however, it may actually be more useful to go
afield a little later in the morning so there are fewer
- If bird feeders are filled during the summer, adults
will bring their young. Watching juveniles acquire flying
and feeding skills can be a source of enjoyment. Summer
feeding is not necessary; moving or dripping water is another
magnet for most birds.
- Heron and egret dispersal from their breeding grounds
rises this month and continues through the summer. Watch
for these long-legged waders at lakes, reservoirs, and
- Sometimes Ospreys may be seen all summer in the
vicinity of lakes and reservoirs. There are a very few
nesting records from Triadelphia Reservoir (Montgomery
County side) dating from a time when WSSC had erected two
platforms—which are long gone. No other Osprey
nesting in this part of the Piedmont has been verified.
- A decade or two ago any sighting of a Bald Eagle in the
county was noteworthy. Fortunately, the situation has changed.
A sighting can still be breathtaking, but the
species' presence here is no longer highly unusual. These
majestic birds are not just being reported from
Triadelphia Reservoir where there has been an active nest
for more than a decade, or from Duckett Reservoir, where
there has also been an active nest for several years, but
from many parts of Howard County. In 2006, a third active
nest was verified on private property in the
north-central part of the county. During the most recent
breeding bird atlas field work, eagle breeding was
confirmed just east of the Patapsco River which means
birds also drift into the county from that direction.
Observing a Bald Eagle almost anywhere in the county has
now become a possibility. During the late fall, migrants
join the residents; some stay the winter if the
reservoirs do not freeze completely. Brighton Dam is the
vantage point from which to scan for the Triadelphia
birds. Centennial and the Columbia lakes have
increasingly produced sightings
- Rails are among the most elusive local species. Soras
and Virginia Rails are regular migrants and rare
breeders. Meadowbrook Park has extensive wetland habitat
where rails and bitterns have been seen and heard in
migration. The possibility for breeding at that location
certainly exists. There are also a few breeding Virginia
Rail records at the University of Maryland Central Farm (not
open to the public).
- Willow Flycatchers are still filtering through early
- Boxes for Eastern Bluebirds or other cavity nesters
should be monitored weekly during the entire breeding
season to prevent House Sparrows from nesting.
- It is not always necessary to arise early to enjoy
singing birds. Dusk brings a second period of increased
song. In late May and throughout June, there is little to
rival the melodies of the Wood Thrush and the Veery. Wood
Thrushes utilize both moist floodplains and dry hillside
shrub understories and can be heard in almost any
deciduous forest in the county. They are tolerant of
man's presence in suburban woodlands. Hearing a Veery's
reedy, haunting song at twilight is a greater challenge.
Their presence is limited because they require extensive
tracts of moist forest with a dense shrub layer. Although
some northern portions of Patapsco Valley State Park
still have nesting birds, a consistent location is the
Middle Patuxent Environmental Area. Deer control, which
is allowing some regrowth of the shrub layer, has
probably saved them as a breeding species there.
- Northern Mockingbirds continue singing at night. Note
how many songs of local breeding birds are incorporated
into the repertoire of the neighborhood mocker.
- Occasionally, a warbler is still passing through
during the first week of June. It is likely to be one of
the late migrating species such as Bay-breasted,
Blackpoll, Mourning, or American Redstart.
- June has produced few county rarities, but a late
migrant or a wandering waterbird is always a possibility.