Warsaw's Country Courier

April birding
Join me for a bird ID walk April 22!

An installment of For the Birds

We have been talking about spring for many weeks now and it’s finally here!  Between warmer weather and the chorus of birds singing it’s official!

I think you would agree with me that with the arrival of spring, we get that extra “spring in our step” –  a renewed enthusiasm, a renewed inspiration – to live each day of our lives to the fullest and to enjoy spring’s unfolding beauty right before our eyes.  Yes, there’s plenty of yardwork, clean-up, gardening, and more to do with the arrival of spring, but we gladly accept these forms of “fitness” in exchange for that spring feeling!

We have been busy in our greenhouse getting ready for a busy May of flower sales. The windy and cooler March weather we experienced made that a bit challenging. As Leslie and I work in the greenhouse without the radio on, we hear several species of birds singing – several of which are already building nests in the various trees and shrubs around our property.  One that stands out the most is the mockingbird pair, which is busy imitating several other species of birds all day long.  Though they do a good job of mimicking several different species in a matter of two minutes, the mimics are not perfect, and with a little experience, one can tell if it’s the mockingbird singing or the actual bird.  Starlings also do some mimicking.  So if you think you are hearing a new bird for the spring, you might want to make sure that it isn’t just a fake call from the mockingbird or the starlings.  Some of the birds that are imitated include killdeer, tree swallow, bluebird, kestrel, titmouse, chickadee, and many more.

Though the widest variety of birds arriving isn’t until May, many birds arrive here in March and April.  Right now, here in early April, it seems like every day at least one new species is appearing.  For example over the first six days of April new species that arrived here at our home on LaGrange Road in Wyoming include tree swallow, chipping sparrow, savannah sparrow, purple finch, and sapsucker.  Others in the next few days will include towhee, wood duck, brown thrasher, other swallows, hawks, herons, some early warblers, and some additional waterfowl.  May brings us many new species of warblers, vireos, and other favorites like hummingbirds, orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, scarlet tanagers, and many more.  The reason for later returning birds is they rely heavily on a better insect population that comes with warmer weather.

With migration season upon us, some birds that have migrated south for the winter will be gradually moving north.  We may see some pine siskins, white-crowned sparrows, fox sparrows, and evening grosbeaks moving through.  Some of these spend the winter here and points south of here like the white-crowned sparrow and the evening grosbeaks.  If you were lucky enough to have some evening grosbeaks stop by last fall and maybe stay for the winter, you might have them at your feeders well into May.  Speaking of evening grosbeaks, a few days ago, Leslie and I took a drive to the Fillmore area where we visited a very nice lady who owns some beautiful farm property not far from the Genesee River and has a large flock of at least 80 evening grosbeaks patronizing her sunflower feeders.  It was a sight to see and I got some good photos and a nice video of them.  Because they have been gobbling up huge amounts of sunflowers all winter and spring, we brought her a big bag of sunflowers from our shop to help her out a bit.  Once grosbeaks find a steady daily supply of sunflower seeds they can become very loyal.  I remember back in the 70’s when I was in school, the large flocks of grosbeaks that would come here to the farm every day, and then suddenly one day in mid-May they would leave.  It will be interesting to see when this particular flock will leave for Canada.  Their return to this area after mostly being absent for the last several decades is likely the result of a problem with certain coniferous cone-bearing trees up north, thus migrating south to find food here. That disease or insect infestation of the coniferous trees appears to be in a new cycle, but no one knows how long it will last.  Watch your feeders as some may show up for a day or a couple of weeks!

I’m out of room again, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to take the time to enjoy the many neat birds that are arriving daily and how many more are still coming over the next few weeks.  It is fascinating and I encourage you to be keeping your list of birds – and maybe even trying eBird!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, April 22 (Earth Day), and join me for a short bird ID walk at our home at 6340 LaGrange Road, Wyoming, at 8 a.m.  We will conclude at 9:30 and at that time will take about a half hour to go over bluebird nesting information and tips and also to help anyone who is interested in learning a little more about eBird.  We should be able to put together a really good list of birds on our walk.  Bring binoculars, waterproof footwear, and a friend.  No pre-registration is necessary.  Cancelled only if lousy weather but you can call or text me at 585-813-2676 with any questions!

Happy birding!

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