birds. . .

Spring Migration- Southern Minnesota, Midwest Flyway

The Spring migration is always exciting in Minnesota. Not only does one look forward to having the birds return, but one is very happy to know that winter has left. My "snow sign" is the Dark-eyed Juncos. When they arrive, snow is not far behind; when the last one is gone, warm days are certain.

Note: I am going to begin including more on the weather because it is changing and seems to be affecting both the regular and migrant bird visitors. There seems to be fewer of the House and Gold Finches at the feeders. I have been spotting hawks occasional and hear reports of more predator birds being spotted within the town. Used to see them only in the farming country surrounding us.
With a winter of little snow, a warm spell in March brought enough of a spring-like spell that allowed me to plant the cool weather crops in my vegetable patch a month early. However, no robins returned with it. Instead of my usual early bird robin yelling at me from the window sill asking for raisin, on Easter Sunday, March 27th, an entire flock arrived amid a slush and rain storm. It is the first time I have seen them arrive in a flock. On the 28th I heard the first Eastern Phoebe calling but did not see it. The rest of this week brought the Kiinglets which arrive here before the warblers.
A big, nearby evergreen that was a bird favorite, blew down this winter. I'm sure it will somewhat change the scene in my garden. However, other neighboring young evergreens have reached "nesting" size. Should be an interesting year for nest watching.
Weather returned back to winter cold but with only minor snow flurries.
1st Week: Many Juncos left during the first week with a few stragglers remaining. White throated Sparrows are coming.
2nd Week: Warblers returned. I can hear them but have only seen the Yellow Throat and the Black Throated Blue.
3rd Week: Last of the Juncos left. Starlings are building a nest in a eave fascia opening. There seems to be fewer of them every year. Neighbors have spotted a Bald Eagle at a local lake. There were elusive sitings last summer but am hearing more frequent reports this spring. Some thought they had seen a nest in the adjacent wooded park.
4th Week: No new sitings. Hear the White Throated Sparrows. It is still very cold, into 20s overnight
1st Week. The wren returned Friday. The Brown Thresher was digging through garden mulch Saturday morning. It finally warmed this week and more garden planting is happening, still early for Minnesota.
2nd Week:


A Merlin Falcon has been stalking my back yard, which is a bit farther North than his normal range. I first spotted him about 8 feet from my window sitting under the bird feeder tree. Several times later, I have seen him scope my bird feeders from nearby trees and occasionally from my back yard gate arbor.
--3rd week: Although we still have snow and cold, is seems the junco are already leaving. This usually doesn't happen until all the snow has melted.

--4th week: We are having above normal warm weather, 20's to occasional 30's for highs, and the snow is beginning to melt. Weathermen say this week will end in rain. I have seen no Junco's this week and assume they have gone North. Usually my raisin eating Robin arrives before the Junco's go, but I have yet to see him. Last year he announced his arrival by landing outside my kitchen window during an ice storm. I hear the Cardinal's mating call and suspect the female is already nesting. Some of the house finches and sparrows have begun carrying dried materials and one pair is building on top of a birdhouse.


Note: 2003-2004 has been the saga of feral cats in my yard. That is a story for another time. With help from the Human Society, live trap use and a too kind heart, the situation in the garden is much improved. Two now watch the birds looking out through the window. Obviously, watching for birds migrations was greatly hampered.



2nd week: There are fewer Juncos this week, but the weather is still freezing and there is snow on the ground.
March 17th: I heard the first Phoebe singing loud and clear this morning. He arrived with our spring thaw which began the 14th, and not a moment too soon for someone suffering with severe cabin fever.
3rd and 4th weeks: Saw the Phoebe catching insects in the garden. Robins are back and the familiar ones are waiting at the window sill for their raisins. Yellow throats are flitting about the shrubbery and trees. Juncos are definitely gone.

2nd week: Had much rainy and cloudy weather.
Difficult to see when birds arrived, however, on the first clear day it appears all the warblers and finches have returned. There are few white throated sparrows, but many less than in years past. Also seems to be fewer black birds.
3rd week: Have not seen the oven bird this spring but did spot a Wilson's warbler for the first time in my garden. He hung around for several days, but have not seen him since. Spotted an oriole in the trees and put out the nectar feeder. This is very early for him.

It has been much too gloomy this month to take any photos.

1st week: It appears all migrating birds are where they plan to be for the summer. With a very chilly, wet and gloomy spring plus a surplus of feral cats in the neighborhood, observing this migration has not been very successful. I focused more on handling the cat problem. Several went to the Human Society and two became residents in my house. They seem to be adjusting to becoming "inside" kitties, however, I moved one feeder away from the window. Perhaps later the birds will learn that the cats cannot get through the glass. The cat saga is another story that may one day show up in the Gardener's Journal.

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Copyright© 2004 Bristen

The Gardener's Journal