Birds that migrate between Mexico and the Brandywine Valley
Some birds are year-round residents of the Brandywine Valley. But many species migrate south for the winter, returning in spring for the nesting season. Migrants may winter in South America, the southern US, or places in between, including Mexico. Here are just a few of the birds whose winter home is in Mexico. These species are common enough in the Brandywine area that you have a good chance to see or hear them. The map shows their winter range.
Tiny, fast, and brightly colored. Green above, white below; males have a ruby-red throat. Seen at woods edges, and in gardens, often perching on a lone branch. Listen for their high-pitched chittering. They fly up to 30 mph, can go backward, and hover with wings beating 50 times a second! They have a long, thin beak. Like butterflies, hummingbirds drink nectar from flowers, pollinating them in the process. To attract them, plant nectar-rich flowers like Bee balm, cardinal flower, and trumpet creeper; or provide sugar water (1:4) in feeders. Ruby-throated hummingbirds migrate to the Brandywine Valley in late April, and stay until October. Solitary birds, they‘re aggressively territorial. The nest is tiny (with 2 jelly-bean-size eggs), camouflaged by lichens. Learn more
The male indigo bunting is colorful, common and conspicuous. A stunning blue bird, he sings loudly (a tune of descending, paired notes), perched in a tree by a shrubby clearing or field, or on roadsides. The less noticeable brown female doesn’t have time to sing – she’s too busy building the nest, sitting on her eggs and caring for the young. Indigo buntings arrive in the Brandywine Valley late April-early May, and stay into late October. They forage for insects and seeds in brushy areas. The nest, a cup made of plant material, is hidden deep in a thicket, woven into the low fork of a shrub. Learn more
Lively, common resident of woods with abundant shrubs. Male redstarts are black with orange patches on wing, tail and sides; females, gray-green with yellow. The male sings frequently: a high-pitched tune with an abrupt “sneeze” finish. Redstarts forage for insects in shrubs and trees, fanning their wings and tail to flush prey; they dart after bugs to catch them in mid-air. Constantly moving, redstarts are easily spotted. The female weaves a cup-shaped nest in the fork of a tree or shrub, using plant fibers and animal hair; both sexes feed the young and defend the nest. Redstarts arrive in the Brandywine Valley late April-early May, and stay into late October. Learn more
This resource is made available in conjunction with Brandywine’s Virtual First Sunday for Families on May 2, 2021, and sponsored by PECO.
Header Photo: Indigo Bunting, photo by Jim Moffett. Other Images: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird: thefixer, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Indigo Bunting: Totodu74, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons; American Redstart: Snowmanradio, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Maps: Brandywine Conservancy, data from eBird.org