Yes, it’s that time again, when those of us in northern latitudes start thinking about the return of our songbird friends. After a long and difficult winter, it’s time to lift our eyes skyward in search of things with wings. It’s time to start watching the eBird maps to see where our favorite migrants are each week, and try to predict when they’ll be passing through. It’s time to celebrate the return of spring and look forward to many hours spent hunting for our favorite birds in the woods, marshes, and grasslands. Yes, the days are filled with anticipation.
This map shows where the Black and White Warblers are as of today…see, they’re already up to North Carolina! These striking birds spend the winter in Mexico, Central America and South America, with some of them only going as far south as Southern Texas or Florida. But they are definitely on the move now, and I’ll be checking eBird often now to watch the progression of those little orange markers on the map, which should pop up in Michigan in only four short weeks.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is also helping whip us all into a frenzy of excitement with their annual March Migration Madness brackets, where you can vote your favorite birds up in the rankings each week. I just voted for the Painted Bunting over the Bullock’s Oriole, basing my vote purely on the joyful colors of the bunting (I pick my basketball teams by the colors of their outfits too, by the way).
It occurs to me that the Cornell Lab is a serious enabler. But in this sense, that’s a very good thing.
If you’re curious (or obsessed) and want to find out where and when the birds will be in your area, you can read the forecasts on Cornell’s Birdcast site. And if you’re coming to the “Warbler Capital of the World” (the Magee Marsh/Crane Creek area of NW Ohio), the Black Swamp Bird Observatory has a page on their site where you can find out which species are likely to come through northern Ohio at any given time leading up to the Biggest Week in American Birding festival (this year’s festival is May 6-15).
You may have noticed the little box in the sidebar on my blog’s home page that says “2014 Festival Blogger” — in addition to being on the team for the second year, this year I’m also the “Blogger Wrangler,” in charge of motivating the other team members and publicizing their posts about the festival on Facebook. It’s a lot like herding cats — these bloggers are active people with lots going on in their lives in addition to their commitment to help spread the word about the Biggest Week. It’s a challenge, to be sure, but I’m willing to do almost anything for such a good cause.
Since I’ll be so focused on birds for the next couple of months, I’d be thrilled to answer any of your bird-related questions if you want to send them to me. Heck, I’ll do that anytime. I’m no expert, but I sure know where to find answers. I’m trained as a librarian–so I’ve got killer research skills–and I know quite a few bird experts too. Just leave me a comment or use the “Contact Me” tab at the top of the page. I guess I’m an enabler too. 😉
Wherever you’re reading this from, I hope you find time to get out in nature this spring. And don’t forget to look up in the trees occasionally — you never know what might turn up during migration!