The excitement has begun. After a very long winter, spring has returned to northern Minnesota and so have some of the migratory songbirds. Each morning I wake up and listen. This morning it was a White-throated Sparrow singing the, ‘old Mr. Peabody, Peabody’ refrain. Dawn was barely breaking and this little migrant was advertising to any interested females that he was in the neighborhood and looking to set up housekeeping. Later in the morning I watched as two of the birds hopped around on the ground beneath our bird feeders scavenging for remainders of the sunflower bird seed we have put out all winter long. These mostly brown streaked birds have a distinct white throat patch, with white stripes on their head and a bright yellow splash of feathers above the eye and next to the bill.
A while later I heard the high pitched trill of a Pine Warbler. It has been visiting the suet feeders hanging from our Maple tree branches. Suet provides quick energy and protein for these insectivorous birds when the real insects are still not out in abundance. This little songbird has been spending the winter months in the southeastern tier of
states. Some will stay there throughout the year, while others find it better to head north where there is less competition for nesting territories. This warbler is a mix of lemony yellow on its head, breast and belly. The wings are grey with a couple white wing bars; the tail is grey also.
Later in the morning when I went out on the deck, I saw a flash of a rusty brown tail on the ground under the hydrangea bush. Before I could grab my binoculars it flew off towards a bunch of plum trees down our field. I retrieved the binocs and began to
scrutinize the ground below the plums. Finally I caught some movement and could see that tantalizing brown color, but I still couldn’t see the bird clearly. Patience is one of the necessary qualities of successful bird watching; something I’m not always good at, but I waited and finally the bird moved up into the upper branches where I could see it that its entire back, as well as the tail were a rich rusty color. By this time I had called my husband to come and look. Between the two of us and a flight by the bird, we determined it was a Veery – a member of the Thrush family and one that isn’t always easy to see since they prefer the woods. Hopefully it will nest nearby.
To add to today’s pleasures, we were eating lunch on our deck talking about the birds that are still missing. I
mentioned the Tree Swallows and not 10 minutes later we heard and then saw them soaring overhead. Yes, we conjured them, just by speaking their name (if only). We are still waiting for the Eastern Bluebirds and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. We will put up our hummingbird feeder this week, because they normally return around Mother’s Day. May this month bring you as much pleasure as ours has already.
By Kate Crowley