We’re in the middle of spring here in central Ohio, and birders are eager for the great spring migration to begin shortly. Actually, spring migration is going on right now of course, but the great waves of warblers and associated birds haven’t quite gotten into gear yet. Spring weather can be fickle, so outside of a few intrepid early birds, the bulk of the migrants are waiting a bit longer for the trees to leaf out and the weather to warm up a little more, ensuring a plentiful insect food supply.
The following pictures were taken in March and the first half of April. The last half of spring will bring us the great neotropical bird migration- those birds who spent the winter in the southern US or Central & South America, so we have much more to look forward to!
First, the nesters…
Bluebirds are nesting in boxes provided for them in parks- a classic spring experience.
Tree Swallows have returned from the south and are staking out nesting boxes of their own. I saw my first Barn Swallow yesterday.
Pigeons have returned to their nesting areas, such as underneath bridges.
Canada Geese are starting to nest- sometimes in proximity to humans.
This pair of Mallards are looking for a nesting spot at my apartment complex- they’re here year after year, marching across lawns and checking behind bushes to find the right spot for them. I’ll walk around early in the morning in this season and run across them occasionally. They’re not fearful of people, but they’ll waddle slowly away from me. Their nest will probably be mere feet away from someone’s door, behind a bush.
A Starling nesting on an apartment building across the street. Is it the same pair there every year? Or maybe their offspring? Or different ones entirely?
Killdeer have returned, looking for nesting spots in fields.
And now, some songsters…
A regular singer seen often, Song Sparrows are a favorite of mine.
Cardinals are familiar suburban singers. Unlike many species, both the males and females sing.
Red-Winged Blackbirds are on territory around wet areas, and they’re quite vocal about it. I love photographing them because they often cooperate by posing for me instead of flying off.
Mourning Doves coo their soft and peaceful song.
Robins sing for hours in the morning this season. One near where I live will start singing before dawn, after 5 AM and continue until around 7, when he presumably goes in search of food.
This Brown Thrasher sings from a stand of trees in a park across town; I’ve photographed him twice so far. It’s not always so easy to spot them.
Titmice sing their short clear-note songs in the woods now. They are much more musical-sounding than they were during the winter.
If you look closely, you can see an Eastern Towhee singing just to the right of the tree trunk. Towhees have a unique voice, and enjoy scratching through the leaf layer for sustenance.
A Field Sparrow forages on the ground near two Chipping Sparrows. Both of these birds are frequent singers this season. They’ve returned to their warm-weather nesting grounds after wintering in the south.
Here’s a Field Sparrow singing in a park 2 days ago. Their song is an even series of notes that starts slow and then speeds up. They live in grassy fields.
Chipping Sparrows are rather tame and enjoy suburban landscapes. Their pleasant trilling song can often be heard now.
This Eastern Meadowlark is loudly singing his brief musical song. They can be found in large grassy fields.
Goldfinches are singing too, though they nest later in the year. They are losing their drab winter plumage and molting into their bright warm-weather colors.
A Carolina Wren sings its very loud song. How does that sound come from such a small bird?
Eastern Phoebes are the earliest flycatchers to return from the south. You can hear their ‘fee-bee’ calls along wood borders, where they glean for insects.
Wild Turkeys are gobbling in the woods. I’ll have a post about them soon, hopefully!
Some birds are heading further north…
White-Throated Sparrows can be heard calling from thickets- they’ll mostly nest in Canada.
This Fox Sparrow is passing through, also heading to Canada.
Dark-Eyed Juncos have often headed north by now- they seem to be hanging around a bit longer than normal this year.
Kinglets are also heading to Canada, that popular nesting spot for many birds.
Warblers are mostly not here yet, but there are exceptions. Waterthrushes and Pine Warblers have been spotted; these are early-returning species. I missed a photo of a Waterthrush by 1 second as I was focusing my camera and it flew off- here’s the shot I missed 🙂 I wish I had a dime for every one of these shots I have!
Here’s a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Ohio’s only regular year-round Warbler. I’ve posted previously about them. Notice that now they are wearing their bright spring feathers!
And not to leave out high flyers…
Turkey Vultures have returned from the south, soaring on the breeze. Although they aren’t handsome birds, I enjoy seeing them overhead.
Woodpeckers are drumming in the woods, sending signals to their own…
Here two Downy Woodpeckers frolic, chasing each other through the forest. Spring fever!
Here a Red-Bellied Woodpecker appears to be creating a nesting hole.
Late in the season, expect a spring migration post from me. Hopefully I’ll have some decent pictures to share. This year, it seems that the trees are leafing out earlier than normal, so it may be a challenge to get shots of colorful warblers this year. We’ll see how it turns out!