Many people enjoy bird watching in the spring, when bright flocks of birds migrate overhead. However, these birds are not typically the same birds that stop by your backyard birdfeeder for a snack. To observe birds during migration, it helps to be prepared. Here are some tips for spring bird watching to get you started.
Identifying Birds in Migration
There are many types of birds that fly north in the spring. Check eBird.org for migration charts specific to your area. Some of the most popular birds to observe in the spring are:
- Waterfowl (ducks, geese, swans)
- Birds of prey (bald eagles, hawks)
- Shorebirds (sandpipers, plovers)
- Songbirds (warblers, tanagers, buntings, orioles, thrushes)
Types of Habitats
Find out where your favorite birds cluster, whether in spruce-fir forests, low wet areas or other spaces. Explore both broad habitats, such as mountains and river valleys, as well as microhabitats like isolated tree patches or small islands. For example, warblers tend to gather in city parks where there may only be a very small patch of trees for landing. Warblers are also drawn to elevated areas closer to their cruising altitude.
The Weather Factor
Weather plays an important part in which birds you will be able to see. Stay abreast of local weather conditions, especially storms that force birds to land temporarily. The best time to see migrating birds is when there is a strong weather shift, such as rain, snow, thunderstorms or an immediate change in wind direction. Don't wait too long or birds will continue on their way before you catch a glimpse.
Spring is a great time to bird watch if you know what to watch for. Keep these tips in mind and you will be amazed by the results!