Birders will enjoy sighting new and rare birds in the coming months as winter turns into spring. Those new to birding can watch as birds enjoy the sunshine and forage for food, search for a mate, or claim territory. If you have a good bird house in your backyard, you may also notice new visitors who are preparing for the mating season by gathering nesting materials and starting the long process of building a nest.
This guide will go over the 6 unique spring birding moments to watch for, so you can be sure to catch these exciting moments as the weather warms up and your favorite birds return for the season.
One of the earliest signs that spring is here is the appearance of Phoebes. These birds are one of the earliest spring migrants. They typically hang out near the edge of a yard and nest close in proximity to humans. These birds build nests on ledges, so they will benefit from a nest shelf platform placed under the eaves of a home.
Juncos Leaving as the Weather Heats Up
Dark-eyed Junos are snowbirds. When these birds leave the area, it’s a major sign that spring is on the way. Other species of birds that frequent your yard during the winter will move on to areas that offer cooler weather, which can also be a major indicator that warmer weather is headed your way.
The Appearance of Woodpeckers
Woodpeckers make a lot of noise in the spring, in order to attract a mate. The sound of a woodpecker tapping on a tree to attract potential mates is another indicator that mating season is here. Keep a lookout for woodpeckers fluffing up their feathers, performing courtship dances, and making a big show out of producing food for their lady friend.
If you want to attract a woodpecker to your yard, use a large nesting box that’s specifically designed for them. You can also offer foods that are high in fat. Suet is a great option and one you can leave out year-round.
To learn more, click here and read my guide on food scraps that birds can eat.
Blackbirds Appear Out of Nowhere
The arrival of the red-winged blackbirds can also mark the beginning of spring. These are another species of early migrants that are a major indicator that warmer weather is coming. The males begin staking out their territories starting in March, with females eventually following. This type of blackbird is hard to miss. They can be found perching up high in the tops of cattails, singing their hearts out. They’re considered strong defenders of their territory, so you’ll also see them commonly squabbling with other birds.
One of the truest signs of spring is when you whip up a batch of sugar water for hummingbirds and get your first visitor. These birds will arrive in early March after a long flight. Most will stop off along their journey, in search of an easy meal and a place to rest. Just like blackbirds, male hummingbirds will arrive before the females. If you have hummingbird feeders or blooming plants, you can easily attract these birds to your yard in early spring.
Wrens Start Building Nests
Springtime is the nesting season for most species of birds. When you sight a wren gathering nesting material, it definitely indicates that spring is finally here. Most wrens will start building their nests as soon as possible. The wren is considered a prolific breeder and can have two to three broods of fledglings per season. Research has shown that young males will set up their territory closer to an established male to ensure they are nesting in an area that’s considered suitable to females.
Make sure you get a jump on cleaning out your birdhouses and don’t put it off until you see these birds arrive. Repair or replace any damaged houses and rehang them early. You can also try hanging small twigs, leaves, and dried grass, or other types of nesting materials in suet cages, which can provide the wrens and other nesting birds with the materials they need to build strong nests.
Other Important Birding Moments
The following birding moments indicate that spring is on the way. This is an exciting time for new birders who have yet to see some of the unique and fascinating bird behaviors that occur during the springtime.
The Goldfinch doesn’t migrate, but these birds do tend to disappear from the landscape during the winter months. The males go from a vivid yellow to a dull green during the winter and become less conspicuous. In many species, molting goes unnoticed, but the first glimpse of yellow on the male goldfinch is a classic sign of spring that you don’t want to miss.
To attract these birds to your yard, you can offer thistle seeds in bird feeders and leave them out year-round. Once you have them established, you can place a giant tube feeder that will attract two or three dozen goldfinches at a time. Additionally, since these feeders have such small openings, you won’t have to worry about squirrels raiding them.
Birds Digging for Worms
While there are some species of robins that can overwinter in harsh winter conditions, a robin sighting is still one of the biggest signs of spring for most birders. The rains bring thawing and cause worms to move to the surface, which is why you’ll see an increase in the number of robins out.
Watching robins pluck large worms out of the soil is a fascinating moment that all birders will love especially new or younger birders.
If you want to attract more robins to your yard, you can leave out mealworms as a treat. You can also install a nesting shelf since robins typically don’t use birdhouses.
These unique spring birding moments to watch for are all classic signs that spring is coming, or spring has arrived. During this time, there are plenty of things you can do to prepare your yard for the birding season, such as cleaning out birdhouses and feeders, ensuring your feeders and birdbaths are full, and planting flowers that will attract certain species, such as hummingbirds.