Thursday, April 14, 2011

2nd Wave of Migrant Birds and First Frogs

A few warm days, and the snow is pretty well gone. It's mid-April, and the second wave of migrant birds is arriving back. While robins, red-wings and turkey vultures have been here for a month, now a new group of common summer birds is showing up, their calls adding to the variety of music in the air.

The song sparrows have just been back a week. They sit at the very top of younger spruce trees and call their distinctive, easily recognized song. Little brown birds, like all the sparrows, they have a dark brown spot on their breast that makes them immediately recognizable, along with their song.

Yesterday I saw a pair of chipping sparrows too. Even tinier 'little brown birds', these sparrows are one of the most common in residential yards, their call a clear trill that you will hear all summer long. These sparrows have a plain breast, and a small reddish-brown cap on their head, and are frequently heard squeaking from the ditch as they hunt for food.

A flicker has been calling it's long staccato series of notes, like a woodpecker that can't stop. I haven't seen it yet, but the call is clearly distinctive.

Finally, our favourite spring migrant arrived back yesterday, the bluebird. Calling from high in the ash tree, it sat in the sun and waited while I found the binoculars to identify it for sure. From underneath you just see the white and reddish breast, but seen from behind the flash of blue is clear. We hope it stays around and nests nearby.

And our favourite sounds of spring - the spring peepers and now the wood frogs are calling madly from a hidden pond across the road. They seem to start on the day the last of the ice is melting, and the song gets stronger by the day, filling the evening and night with frog music.

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