We are heading into another high intensity few days for the number of migrating birds on the move through our area now. You could see more warblers, vireos, sparrows, shorebirds, flycatchers, swallows, Kingbirds, thrushes and more! Again, location, location, location is important. You will see different birds in different habitats. As I noted in the last blog, the birds will migrate at night. The best time to see them is around 6-8am, though they will generally hang around for the day to rest and eat in preparation for their next night.
You can read the last blog for the warblers. The only new one I have heard so far is the Worm-eating Warbler, in Monson, near Hillside Cemetery. The vireos are on the move. I have had the Blue-headed and Red-eyed Vireos in my yard in Wilbraham. I have also seen and heard these birds and the Warbling Vireo near Sawmill Pond in Wilbraham and in Fannie Stebbins in Longmeadow. There are also Yellow-throated Vireos. I have heard them in my yard but will include a picture from Hilton Head this spring. White-eyed Vireos are much rarer in our area but will be here soon.
Most of you have seen and heard one flycatcher by now-the Eastern Phoebe. Check my earlier blogs if you have not. The other flycatchers are here now or will be here soon. I have had a Great Crested Flycatcher in my yard lots of times this spring. They make such neat sounds! I have heard the Least Flycatcher and the Eastern-wood Pewee a few times as well. The Willow Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher and Arcadian Flycatchers and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are less common, at least for me. They like the habitats as warblers-forest trees and shrubs, usually near water, where they can catch bugs.
When people hear the word sparrow, they typically think of the (English) House Sparrow or the Song Sparrow as they are both common year-round in our area. There are many other sparrows that migrate. I have had the White-throated Sparrows since the winter. They are becoming scarce now. I have Chipping Sparrows building a nest in my yard now. You might see some newer some spring sparrows now, such as the Savannah, Grasshopper, Field, or Swamp Sparrows. Their names give clues to their preferred breeding habitats. Some rare sparrows are the White-crowned, Lincoln’s and Vesper Sparrows. Most of us said goodbye to our Juncos.
Our American Robin and Eastern Bluebirds are thrushes. You can see some other thrushes that are returning now. These birds are somewhat shy and prefer denser shrubs and thickets near water. You might hear the Wood Thrush’s beautiful song even if you can’t see him. You might also see or hear a Hermit Thrush, a Swainson’s Thrush, or a rare Gray-cheeked Thrush. A Veery is a thrush and these birds a bit friendlier so you may find them easier. They sound a lot like Tufted Titmice to me. There is also a Brown Thrasher that resembles a thrush to me but is more closely related to our Gray Catbirds and Northern Mockingbirds that are everywhere now!
Swallows are SO cute and easy to see as they love swooping down into water to catch bugs! They are NOT easy to photograph as they move around constantly! Tree Swallows are beautiful. You can see them near water in Fannie or Forest Park or using the bird houses in Conant Brook Damn in Monson. I have seen the Northern Rough-winged Swallows in Forest Park and near the rocks in Conant. Barn Swallows are beautiful birds that you are most likely to see near a barn-literally. I have yet to see a Bank Swallow, but they are migrating now as well.
As for other water birds, you can see lots more Great Blue Herons. You can also see Double-breasted Cormorants, Great Egrets, and Green Herons if you go to a habitat like Fannie Stebbins. I have also seen American and Least Bitterns there in the past. Some people have seen a Black-crowned Night Heron-I am still waiting for this bird! Some of the other shorebirds moving through Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, and MANY different types of Sandpipers. Next week, I will share the rest of the spring birds that can’t really be put into groups easily. I shared my usual pics and sounds below. Most pics are local, but a couple are from my recent trips to Hilton Head or Plum Island so you can see them clearly. I will do a blog on all the sounds soon!