As Spring fully blossoms
our Migratory Songbirds increase
March brings the peak of Spring in New England, trees fertile buds bring promise of green foliage, and despite the expected yet seldom New England Spring freezing rain or light snow, sunny days promise average temps in the 50s or higher. If you live in New England, you have come to understand there is almost never a clean progression of warmth and sun, but May usually brings more warm than cold, as mother nature truly begins to awaken, in prep for the fertile Summer months soon to come.
ring necked duck
Medium Sized Birds
Cedar waxwings can still be found, robins are more abundant, as well as mockingbirds.
red winged blackbird
Eastern Screech Owl
American goldfinch, female
Barred owls can still be heard, present throughout the Winter. Great Horned Owls have quieted down, being more prominently heard from December through February while seeking mates. The Eastern Screech Owl can be heard as Spring begins, usually in more rural backyards of deciduous areas East of the Connecticut River. If you are a walker in undisturbed forests with pastures, Turkey vultures begin to pop up at this time also.
Contrary to popular belief, it is not the temperature but the availability of food that bring our migratory birds back to New England in March, as many birds are able to withstand cold temperatures as long as they have adequate food supply. Most songbirds eat seeds, nuts, berries and worms, all things that become increasing abundant as the environment shifts from freezing temperatures.
However, as New England Springtimes have always been tempermental, and as our environment increasingly faces volatile temperature shifts and fluctuations throughout the year, our Spring months can provide less of an adequate food supply for many migratory and Wintering birds who already face stiff competition for food sources. One way you can help keep our migratory birds healthy and taken care of when they return to New England is by keeping bird feeders and suet cages in your yard. Suet is a great high calorie food for Wintering birds, and you will easily attract many to suet cages. As for seed, black oil sunflower seeds are the safest bet, as most birds prefer them or will eat them. Avoid fancy mixes that contain millet, as most birds do not like millet. Hulled sunflower seeds, peanuts, dried or fresh mealworms and fresh fruit are also excellent choices. For fruit, apples, berries, grapes and oranges are great choices. Nyjer is a less common seed mix, but will attract finches, sparrows, doves, towhees, quail, buntings, and occassionally crossbills.
In March we will also see Kildeer showing up, an easily identified shorebird found usually near shallow water, lakes or estuaries, though it will also nest in open lawns and gravel rooftops where there is no water. If you see this bird hobbling with a seeminly broken wing, you may not need to be alarmed; this bird feigns injury to lure predators away from its nest.
Be sure not to forget the trill buzzing quack of the woodcock as well, featured at the top of this page! These shore birds can be found in old meadows and forest edges where the grass and understory is wet. Their feathers allow them to remain almost indistinguishable from sight among dead damp leaves on the forest floor, but their loud expletive mating shout resembling a cross between a duck and the smooth end of a cicada's call makes their presence on your land or forest very easy to identify.