The change in seasons can be an excellent time for birders to see an incredible number of species, with winter to spring being no exception. As the days warm and get longer, migration is triggered and new arrivals start to appear in our area. This combined with the species that have wintered here still lingering, and the resident species, makes the variety and number of birds for birders to view optimal.
This past week, saw a few warmer days and some south winds, which brought with them good numbers of blackbirds. Red-winged, grackles and cowbirds were all reported. Walks along the river produced the sight and sound of Killdeer, and Tundra Swans started to show up in Aylmer and the Thedford bog. Along with the swans, migrating dabbling ducks started to appear, including Wood Ducks and American Wigeons which are now both present on the Thames River. Pied-billed Grebes and American Coots were also observed. Many Sparrow species will soon follow, with Chipping and Savannah possible any day now.
Several wintering species can still be viewed in the area, including many waterfowl. The Thames River still has a nice variety, with most of the species reported this past winter still present, albeit the numbers and concentrations are much lower. Sparrows, including White-throated, White-crowned and American Tree, can still be found around thickets and field edges and Dark-eyed Juncos are still present at most backyard feeders. A walk at my local park turned up a Northern Shrike that has not begun it’s migration north to the Taiga, where it breeds.
Many of the resident species are extremely active these days. Northern Cardinals are aggressively singing, marking their territory in preparation for the upcoming breeding season. Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Brown Creepers can all be seen foraging on tree trunks for the recently emerging insects.
The weather for our area is not supposed to stabilize for a while yet, so great birding opportunities for viewing these overlapping species should exist for a while. Any day is a great day to bird, but if numbers are what you seek, look for the warmest day with a south wind. If such a day arises, grab your binoculars and head for your favourite birding spot and you may just have one of your best days birding.