July is a time of early departures for some wildlife

Happy Fourth. July has become synonymous with celebrating freedom and democracy, but some noteworthy events also occur in Georgia’s wild places during this month, such as:

• Ruby-throated hummingbirds, finished with their nesting seasons, start showing up in large numbers at feeders to quickly fatten up and gain energy for their arduous migrations to Mexico and Central America for the winter. Males will be leaving by the latter part of this month.

• Swallow-tailed and Mississippi kites, purple martins, blackbirds, barn swallows and tree swallows will gather in flocks by midmonth to migrate south. Other songbirds — orchard orioles, Louisiana water thrushes, American redstarts, cerulean warblers, prothonotary warblers, blue-winged warblers, yellow warblers and blue-gray gnatcatchers — also will commence fall migrations this month.

• Several species of shorebirds — sandpipers, red knots, dunlins, yellowlegs, plovers, dowitchers and others — also will be heading south by mid-July. As they migrate through Georgia, they may appear on inland and coastal mudflats and barrier beaches.

• Female American goldfinches, which wait until summer to begin nesting, will be gathering thistle fibers to build their nests.

• Many other songbirds will go into heavy molt by late month to replace old feathers with new.

• Loggerhead sea turtle nesting season ends on barrier island beaches. Some 1,841 nests have been confirmed in Georgia so far this season. Between now and October, turtle hatchlings will be crawling into the ocean.

• Katydids and cicadas will go into full chorus.

• Male white-tailed deer will grow new antlers in preparation for fall breeding. Now is also the best time to see fawns with their mothers.

• Baby raccoons, foxes, armadillos and bobcats will leave their mothers and strike out on their own. Second litters of gray squirrels will be born. Black bears will start mating.

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Center Museum: The moon will be full Saturday night — the “Ripe Corn Moon.” Mercury is low in the east just before dawn. Venus is higher in the east and rises about two hours before dawn. Mars rises in the east about midnight. Jupiter and Saturn rise in the east around dusk and will appear near the moon on Sunday.

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