Spring is Around the Corner!

February 24, 2021 by Team Journey North

Spring is just under a month away. Some migratory birds have already arrived and more will soon return. Report your observations and track the migration of Red-winged Blackbirds, Baltimore and Bullock's Orioles, Common Loons, and Barn Swallows.

“This guy has been hanging around our feeders for the past 2 weeks, starting around 02/10, in spite of cold temps and several snowstorms. Have not heard him call yet.” Photo by: Roberta (Cheltenham, PA; 02/21/2021)

The Anticipation Begins

With spring just weeks away, many Journey North observers are anticipating the arrival of migratory birds. Migration is very dependent on weather conditions, so in order to understand when and where it may occur, you need to know how to read a weather map.

Journey North Species

In addition to hummingbirds, American Robins, and Bald Eagles, Journey North tracks other bird species as well. This spring migration season, report your first observations of Red-winged Blackbirds, Baltimore and Bullock’s Orioles, Common Loons, and Barn Swallows.

Red-Winged Blackbird

Multiple reports of Red-winged Blackbirds have come in from Texas:

Melissa in Denton, TX: “We have a flock of male and female Red-winged Blackbirds visiting today. We have about 4 inches of snow.” (02/17/2021)

Luz in Garland, TX: “I believe that the snow we had is responsible for crazy sightings in this area. Saw about 5 males and 3 females Red-winged Blackbirds.” (02/1/2021)

Blackbirds often congregate in mixed-species flocks, so keep your eyes peeled and please share if you notice this behavior.

Learn more about mixed-species flocks»

Common Loon

Common Loons were reported in Virginia at the end of January:

Jennifer in Virginia Beach, VA: “Seven loons swimming just past the breakers during the winter wildlife festival at Back Bay NWR.” (01/30/2021)

Barn Swallow

Early arrivals of Barn Swallows were reported in Texas:

Maria in Cumby, TX: “We have been expanding our resident Barn Swallow population for the last 5 years. This summer we topped out at around 30 departing in September. We have never had arrivals before March or April.” (01/19/2021)

Baltimore Oriole

While it is uncommon to observe Baltimore Orioles this early in the season, it is not unheard of. In a report from Mississippi, it appears as though the recent cold weather along the Gulf Coast is impacting early arrivals:

Karen in Vicksburg, MS: “[Baltimore Oriole] immobile in bitter cold on platform feeder with sunflower seed.” (02/15/2021)

Chuck Henrikson’s Birding Report 

Chuck Henrikson’s weekly birding reports from Journey North’s home base, the UW–Madison Arboretum, are back! 

“At Spring Trail Pond I found the usual assortment of birds. The most colorful were the 17 Northern Cardinals that were feeding on some seeds dropped by visitors. Other favorites of mine are the White-throated Sparrows, American Tree Sparrows and Fox Sparrows. I did see a couple of European Starlings that are now speckled with white and show some iridescent colors besides black.”

Read more of Chuck Henrikson’s birding report»

Weather Forecasts for Migrating Songbirds

Dr. Aborn’s Dr. Aborn’s weekly Weather Forecasts for Migrating Songbirds reports will return soon – stay tuned!