We viewed an interesting encounter between migrants and residents this past week. Residents are those birds that stay here all here round, in this case black capped chickadees, mountain chickadees and red-breasted nuthatches. Migrants are birds that move north to breed each year. Many of our songbirds are migrants. Those migrants that breed farther north than Montana will come through here on their way in the spring and fall. Some migrants fly as far as from South America to Alaska each year to find safe and suitable sites for nesting and for rearing their young.
We were watching a lot of flutter in the service berry bushes by our house. As we looked through binoculars we spotted not only our resident chickadees and nuthatches but also Wilson’s warbler and ruby crowned kinglets. Both of these species are migrants; they found some residents to hang out with on their short stay here. A group of birds of different species is called a mixed flock. The advantage to the migrants of course is that they are led to food and shelter by those who live here and know the way. I don’t know what the advantage is for the residents besides providing for them the warm feeling of extending generous Montana hospitality.