Hi everyone! I have been sitting here listening to the sights and sounds of early spring in my backyard in Wilbraham, MA. Many birds are starting their long spring journeys to their breeding grounds now. Some birds, such as the Snow Geese I saw in Pennsylvania, have already moved on. What birds you see and hear will depend on where you are located and the time of day. It will also depend on how closely you are looking and listening. I am currently watching my Dark-eyed Juncos busily eating lots to prepare for their trip up north to breed. They are very vocal now and are making lots of neat sounds! I am also going to miss the pretty songs of the White-throated Sparrow when they migrate shortly. Lots of ducks are moving through Western MA currently and the males are looking quite dashing in their breeding outfits! You can see some recent Wood Ducks from Fannie Stebbins on the Longmeadow page! I included some of my White-throated Sparrow song audio from last spring and a some junco sounds from last week below!

You can monitor which birds are on the move and when your best chances to see them in your area on Cornell’s Birdcast. The link is on my Resource page. Look through my spring migration blogs from last year to see and hear what many of these birds will look and sound like! Some birds can be tricky due to their molting and changing appearances. I often see people post that their American Goldfinches have returned for the spring. American Goldfinches are in Western MA year round. They change their appearance, like most songbirds, for a couple of reasons. First, birds molt to replace their feathers. They need to have clean feathers to be able to keep themselves warm in chilly temps and to fly. Most birds, including goldfinches, will also molt so their feathers will blend in with their habitat for safety reasons. It is much harder for a bright yellow American Goldfinch to hide from predators against the dreary colors of winter here in our area. The other thing that makes some birds harder to identify is that immature or nonbreeding birds and females will usually look different than the males. Male birds needs to step up to impress the ladies!

Last year, I had my usual goldfinches but I also had huge flocks of them, mixed with Pine Siskins, move through my yard for a couple weeks. That was very unusual, and many other birders were seeing this pattern too. I decided to compare mt eBird reports from this same day, March 23rd to today’s report to see how they differed. You can see my eBird profile on the Contact Me page. These 2 reports really highlight how different times and locations will matter! Last year, I did a report in West Springfield in a parking lot near a small patch of woods at 4:37pm. I only saw or heard 8 common birds. There was 1 American Crow, 1 Blue Jay, a hawk, a Rock Pigeon, a Downy Woodpecker, a Tufted Titmouse, 2 Northern Cardinals and 5 American Robins. This morning in my yard, I saw or heard 27 different species during 80 minutes, including all the birds already listed. But, I do have woods and a stream in my yard, and I also feed the birds. Earlier morning is usually a busier time than 4:30pm for birds as well. I had all the other common birds including House Finches, American Goldfinches, Hairy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers, White-throated, House and Song Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Canada Geese, Red and White-breasted Nuthatches, and Carolina Wrens.

I also had some early spring migrants pass through my yard. I reported Red-winged Blackbirds, a Turkey Vulture, Common Grackles, a Pine Siskin and 2 Brown-headed Cowbirds. After I submitted my report I heard a Hermit Thrush and possible Chipping Sparrow too. I have also had pairs of Northern Flickers and Purple Finches visiting recently, though not this morning. I also did not see my Eastern Bluebird couple today. This is strange as they have been working on a nest recently. The other sign of spring I am hearing are the beautiful songs. The Black-capped Chickadees and Song Sparrows are belting out pretty tunes. I can hear so many House Finches singing. I could listen to their free concert all day! Mourning Doves are cooing again and the Northern Cardinals have so many pretty songs in their repertoire! Some spring birds also have dances they perform to attract mates! I love watching the doves chase each other around. I am still waiting to see my first courting dance of the Whip-poor-will! You can check my past blogs to see the best habitats for different species of birds too! Here are some pics of the birds I talked about! Time for me to stop typing and go birding! Take care and enjoy the spring show! As always, I appreciate comments, shares and all my followers SO SO much, Robin.

Dark-eyed Junco
White-throated Sparrow-different tune second half!