Spring arrived yesterday with a cold and windy start, and birding activity is beginning to look a little less like winter and more like the tip of spring migration. I’ve been noticing small signs here and there – like this Eastern Bluebird in looking for a nesting location in Cape May under the watchful eyes of several European Starling. An introduced species (more about that in a later blog post), European Starling compete aggressively with Bluebirds for nesting spots and are largely responsible for huge decreases in Bluebird populations.
I watched these American Oystercatchers dance their way through a loud courtship display one sunny morning a couple of weekends ago. A benefit of my New Jersey Big Year activities has been the increased time I am spending in the field, giving me more opportunities to observe these late-winter behaviors.
There are still plenty of winter birds around, like this beautiful White-throated Sparrow. But I am starting to notice the return of our summer residents, too. During last weekend’s birding trip I found my first-of-the-season Pine Warbler, Palm Warbler, and Eastern Phoebe. Palm Warblers are simply passing through New Jersey on their way to their Canadian summer homes, but Pine Warbler and Eastern Phoebe are two of the many summer residents which will be arriving over the next few weeks.
Don’t let the Spring Migration pass you by – grab your bins and get outside!