There is no better time to become a backyard birder than right now! Rarely do we get the opportunity and time to see spring migration happening right in our backyards. Focus your eyes to the sky, trees, shrubs, and the ground to see what feathered friends are arriving as winter melts away. Create a yard list and see how many species you can see in your backyard in 2020!
Already we see many bird species returning. During mid-March we welcomed back Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown Creepers, Mourning Doves, Robins, and Song Sparrows. By the end of March, we’ve also welcomed back Turkey Vultures, American Woodcocks, Sandhill Cranes, Eastern Phoebe, and many migrating waterfowl! With the welcoming of so many species we also say goodbye to species who wintered here including American Tree Sparrows, White-winged Crossbill, Snow Buntings, and Dark-eyed Juncos.
Early April is here! Keep your eyes open for returning Sparrows (such as Fox and Chipping), Swallows (such as Tree and Barn), Belted Kingfishers, Northern Flickers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and Osprey!
By mid-April we should start to see our colourful warblers start to trickle in including Palm Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Pine Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler (lovingly nicknamed the Butterbutt). Soaring above we should begin to see higher numbers of Broad-winged Hawks and splashing in our lakes, returned Common Loons. Listen closely for calls of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-throated Sparrows, Eastern Towhees, and Brown Thrashers! (Image of them all singing with the mnemonics).
During the month of April we start to see some of our colourful waterfowl again too. Look in nearby rivers and wetlands for Ring-billed Ducks, Green-winged Teal, American Widgeon, and Northern Shovelers. Also near wetlands listen for the laughing Pied-billed Grebe, and the “glugging” American Bittern!
Early May is just around the corner. During that time, keep your ears open to hear returning Eastern Kingbirds, Blue-headed Vireos, Eastern Bluebirds, and the chatty Grey Catbird. Mid-May, we welcome back many of our colourful birds including Baltimore Oriole, Nashville Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Two of our iconic aerial insectivores will also be returning, turn your eyes and ears to the sky to see and hear returning Chimney Swifts and Nighthawks.
Most of these are species that we have the potential to see around Georgian Bay in our own backyards. Share your bird sightings and yard lists with us over social media! Don’t know what something is, email it to GBBR’s Conservation Biologist for identification help!