Words On Birds 02-23-24

Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Early Migrants Urge Spring’s Arrival
February 23, 2024
By Steve Grinley

     Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring this year. The longer days and warmer than normal February that we have been experiencing is likely bringing Spring a bit earlier this year. And the birds seem to agree.

     A number of folks have had pine warblers visiting suet in their yards. One birding friend has up to 6 or 7 pine warblers on any given day. Most of these are probably winter holdovers but pine warblers are one of the first warblers to arrive in spring, so if any of these are early migrants, they didn’t migrate far! A couple of yellow-rumped warblers were in Salisbury this week as well.

     A couple of weeks ago, the New Hampshire Birds list serve was buzzing about the first red-winged blackbirds that were arriving in people’s yards. A few oof our customers have mentioned the “early” arrival of redwings. We had two males visiting our feeders this past week and a male/female pair the week before.

     This seems to happen every year about this time. And we almost always have a little snow and colder temperatures thereafter. The first red-wings blackbirds, along with a few cowbirds and grackles arrive in the early to mid -February followed by reminders that winter isn’t quite over yet.

     Though many folks think it is early, the return of the blackbirds is pretty much on schedule. Soon grackles will be overtaking some feeders, so you may want to dig out your grackle-resistant feeders or adjust your current weight-sensitive feeders now before the larger numbers arrive.

     We were entertaining one or two starlings on any given day this year, but seven to ten were taking over our suet and peanut feeders the past weeks. They were also devouring the bluebird’s mealworms that we were putting out and dominated tray and hopper feeders with the seed mixes that were in them.

     We rearranged some of our feeders, removing the cage suet and left just the perch-less log suet feeders. We also lightened the tension on the Squirrel Buster Peanut Feeders. But we continue to monitor those so as not to discourage the red-bellied woodpecker. We put heavier-shelled striped sunflower in the tray which starling’s long, pointed bills aren’t equipped to handle. We are now back down to one or two starlings, which is manageable.

     There have been reports of the season’s first woodcock at Rough Meadows in Rowley and in a few other locations. These are another sign of spring. Even a few male goldfinches are starting to show some yellow in the face and throat. These are signs of spring and, despite the chance for late season snow, it will be here soon.

     The birds don’t listen to the groundhog, or the weather experts, but Punxsutawny Phil may have it right this year. These early spring birds do give us hope that winter is waning and that warmer days, and spring, are ahead.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Port Plaza West Shops
45 Storey Ave, Suite 7B
Newburyport, MA 01950

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