Beryl Johnson, of Moon Township, Pa., wrote, "A pair of red tailed hawks built a nest in a pine tree in our yard this spring. One day about two weeks ago, we saw two blue jays harass the hawks at the nest. Since that episode, we have seen very little of the hawks. Could they have been frightened away by the blue jays?"
The blue jays almost certainly did not cause the hawks to abandon the nest. A more likely explanation is that a great horned owl or crow visited the nest while it was unattended and helped itself to the nest's contents.
Finally, from Guernsey County, Ohio, Barbara Chorey is the most recent of many readers asking, "Where are all of the hummingbirds? We just aren't seeing many this year."
I've been wondering the same thing. According to the map of returning ruby-throated hummingbirds (www.hummingbirds.net), hummers returned early over most of the East this year. I saw my first one the second week in May. But since then I've seen just a few. And when I did see a hummingbird at my feeders, it was just one. Most years in early June I see four five hummers whenever I check my feeders. So, I too wonder where the hummers are.
Two explanations come to mind. The first is yo-yo weather. We had 8 inches of snow on March 25, 82 degrees on April 9 and 16, 32 degrees on April 13 and 28 degrees on April 14. Then on May 24, the high temperature was only 49 degrees.
Though ruby-throats are hardy little birds, these thermal ups and downs could have had them scrambling to find early nectar sources and soft-bodied invertebrates. If spring weather has influenced hummer abundance, I expect their numbers will stabilize soon.
Another possibility is that last year's derecho at the end of June destroyed many active hummingbird nests. The big wind blew down many trees, and even if nest trees did not fall, the fierce winds could have easily blow eggs or chicks from the nests. As a result, fewer hummers may have fledged last year, and that may be why numbers are down this year.
Contact Shalaway at sshala...@aol.com or 2222 Fish Ridge Road, Cameron, WV 26033.