Enjoying the Spring Migration

Published by Tom Porter

While most of us are locked down at home in quarantine, the avian world is on the move, with the spring migration in full flow. If you are housebound, this is the perfect opportunity to check out your backyard for incoming warblers and other species, said Wheelwright.

“The middle of May is the coolest time of the year for land birds coming back to the Northeast,” he added, “with twenty or more species of warblers alone to look out for. You’ve also got a lot of late migrants, like flycatchers, showing up, as well as all the blackbirds that are already here, like orioles and bobolinks.”

And then there’s the sound of it all, Wheelwright enthused. “The world is alive with birdsong at this time of year. It starts around forty-five minutes before dawn, or even earlier, and goes on all day. The birds are fat and excited and foraging and looking to establish their territory.”

Asked if the decreased level of human activity has had an impact on bird behavior this year, Wheelwright described this as wishful thinking (or “motivated reasoning,” as some scholars call it). “Humans have always wished they played a more central part in the lives of other animals,” he said, “but I think birds are pretty much going about doing what they’ve always done.” Having said that, it is also true that, with town and city streets often deserted, wildlife is more noticeable and acting more boldly at the moment. “Turkeys wandering down major avenues in Boston is not something you would ordinarily see, but here in Maine and along the coast, I would not expect anything different, and I’ve not seen anything different.”

Enjoy Nature Moments: a series of short videos presented by Nat Wheelwright.