, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 31, 2012

Spring brings new birds to the feeders

March is considered a quiet time in the birding world, at least in our area.

The warm wave of weather brought some early migrants in, but that had slowed considerably this past week as cold raw, rainy weather set in this past week. As March comes to a close, April gives us the promise of more new birds arriving. Flocks of redwings and grackles are invading feeders and, yet, our wintering tree sparrows linger on. Our resident downy woodpecker still visits, and the goldfinches, though showing more breeding plumage yellow, are even more frequent at our thistle feeders as natural food becomes more scarce.

Early spring migrants are making feeder stops, so you should be sure that your feeders are full and watch your feeders carefully. Much of the natural food supply that was readily available most of the winter has been seriously depleted. Birds will be looking for alternative sources, especially on those days when the temperature drops again and when burning less energy while searching for food becomes more important. You never know what might show up in your backyard.

Doug Chickering of Groveland described some of his feeder birds during the month of March several years ago, including the appearance of one such new visitor:

"It flew in to the base of the far feeder pole at late dusk. There was just enough light to see that it was smaller than the cardinal that fed there. We get several cardinals at dusk, sometimes up to nine. The small bird immediately started to forage at the base of the feeder, and my first impression was of a song sparrow. There had been a song sparrow out there earlier. I have learned by hard experience not to let an open bird go half identified, so I brought my binoculars to bear. The bird was feeding with its back to me.

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