Monday’s high temperature of sixteen degrees Celsius accompanied by south winds brought with it some new species of migrating birds. It may have been April Fools Day but the birds arriving in our area were no joke.
South winds help push birds along during spring migration. Any day that is significantly warmer in late March or early April, along with a south wind, is a great day to go birding. The weather we experienced on Monday fit this to a T. New arrivals to London included: Osprey, Tree swallows, and the Eastern Phoebe.
Several Osprey sightings were reported, with birds being seen in Springbank Park, Greenway Park, over the Coves, as well as a pair retuning to the nest at Labatt Park. The Osprey feeds almost exclusively on fish so with the Thames River being free of ice, food won’t be a problem. For more information on the Osprey see my previous blog post Spring Marks The Return Of Osprey To London, Ontario.
Tree Swallow’s and Eastern Phoebe’s diet consist of insects, so with cooler temperatures in the forecast for the remainder of the week, these birds may have a bit tougher time than the Osprey. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website indicates that the Eastern Phoebe will also eat small fruits and seeds when insects are scarce. It also states that the Tree Swallow will consume plant foods during these same conditions. Hopefully these species will find enough food to replace energy spent on their migration north. April 1st is not early by any means for these birds to return to our area, in fact they are right on time. According to local records, the average arrival date over the past 80 years for the Tree Swallow and Eastern Phoebe is March 28th and March 26th respectively.
Tundra Swans have been making their way across Southwestern Ontario, and along with them many dabbling ducks. American Wigeon, Wood Ducks, and Blue-winged Teal have all been seen on the Thames River. As more lakes, rivers, and ponds become clear of ice, waterfowl will become more abundant. Fanshawe Lake, Westminster Ponds, and Komoka Ponds are all great places to view migrating ducks once the ice is gone.
Looking ahead to the Environment Canada extended forecast I don’t see any days that appear to have a real spike in high temperatures or south winds. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get out birding; any day is a great day to bird, and there is always plenty to see around our great city.