Grab some binoculars and head outside, because spring migration is going on, and you have a chance to get a glimpse of birds you don’t get to see except when they are passing through!
Winter birds are heading north to nest
Many of our winter birds have already decamped to parts far north for nesting season: Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Northern Flickers, the big flocks of dabbling American Wigeon and Gadwall. Gone, too, the Hooded Mergansers and Bufflehead. I saw a tiny Ruby-crowned Kinglet last week in the cypress swamp and wondered if that was the last one for months. Yellow Rumped Warblers and Cedar Waxwings will head north soon too.
Red-breasted nuthatches, who wintered further south than normal this year in what is called an “irruption” have taken their toy horn “hank-hank” call back to the boreal forests.
Some are just here for a Layover
The oak trees are laden with catkins right now, and those, in turn, are filled with a variety of caterpillars. These neat little packets of protein are great sources of energy for birds that are swinging by on a longer migration from the tropics to more northern nesting sites. Many warblers, including Yellow-Throated and American Redstarts, are just filling up on their way. You might also see White-eyed vireos, Blue-headed Vireos, and Summer Tanagers.
And Some Shout, HEY I am HERE!!!
Still more arrive with us as their final destination. Unlike those quiet departures, these birds are calling for mates and using calls to carve out territories. Orchard Orioles, Painted Buntings, Chuck Wills Widows, and Great Crested Flycatchers and Northern Parulas are already calling from the treetops. Wilsons Plovers are marking off the beaches, Ruby Throated Hummingbirds are fighting each other over feeders, Green Herons squawk in the marsh, and Black Necked Stilts are courting in the impoundment. Common Nighthawks and Purple Martins should arrive any day now.
It really is a great time to grab those binoculars and head outside and look!