There are a handful of months during the year which I find particularly exciting. The first of which is just kicking off. The spring migration (March - May) is an exciting time. During March and April, we can reasonably expect to see an overlap of visitors. The Dark Eyed Juncos and Pine Siskins who arrived during the fall migration will still be around as the American Robins and Red Winged Blackbirds begin to arrive.
It's hard to imagine that the spring migration is upon us since there is still snow on the ground which has persisted since December, but it would seem that the thaw could be upon good portions of the upper Midwest by this weekend.
Male Red Winged Blackbird Singing
The first wave of visitors is always the most interesting to watch. In the evenings when I leave work it's currently silent, but in the coming weeks I can count on a chorus of Red Winged Blackbirds to greet me as I depart. They gather into large flocks to roost at night for the first few weeks after they arrive and then they seem to disperse. The same can be said of the Common Grackles in some local neighborhoods, but their song (while welcome) isn't quite as enjoyable.
Pine Siskin on my safflower feeder.
Their arrival also marks the start of departures. The Pine Siskins, Red Breasted Nuthatches, and Dark Eyed Juncos will soon move further north, and it's during this this window of time that our yard seems to be most active. Both the birds departing and those arriving will be on the prowl for food. Feeders with seed, suet, and fruit are good places to start. If you've left last year's native plants (now dried up husks) in place, wait to cut or burn them back until some point in April; this will allow birds to feed on any remaining seed or forage for any insects which reside amongst the leftovers. Keeping a compost pile can be a useful way to attract migrating birds as well; last spring White Throated and White Crowned Sparrows spent most mornings foraging in our compost.
It may still look snowy and white outside, but I assure you that brighter days are just around corner. Keep watching the skies.