Signs that spring is finally upon us

I heard song sparrows singing on territory on March 11. Northern cardinals have been calling for weeks now and black-capped chickadees are making their fee-bee calls which denotes that they are starting to set up territories.

Bald eagles should be sitting on eggs by now as well as great-horned owls. Numbers of dark-eyed juncos are showing up, so they are starting to move. Across the province American woodcock reports are starting to roll in.

These are all signs of spring. Mallards will be starting to disperse into pairs and will start nesting soon. On March 12 Steven Hiltz of Back Centre had four red-winged blackbirds and a common grackle arrive.

I received a report of a female northern shoveler from Judith Purcell of Stonehurst North. She had seen this bird on Feb. 10, but it only hung around for one day. Judith also reported a lone ring-necked pheasant. This is the first winter ever that I did not see a ring-necked pheasant in Lunenburg County.

About the Lunenburg Christmas Bird Count, on Dec. 30, my team for the Blue Rocks/Stonehurst area did not get a ring-necked pheasant. This was the first year ever for this to happen. So, Judith is lucky to have one of these birds, once plentiful, but now hard to come by. Judith is happy to have a female northern cardinal as a regular visitor. She told me that there are few other birds about.

This seems to be the norm for a lot of my readers as I've been hearing similar reports from far and near. Hopefully, this will not be a trend during future winters. Buffleheads are around Stonehurst North, but not as many as in recent years, Judith tells me. Donnie and Shirley Hume saw two male buffleheads near the Lunenburg Golf Course. By mid April most of the buffleheads will have left for their nesting grounds.

Stephen Joudrey of Whynott's Settlement had a pair of evening grosbeaks show up March 9. This is another species hard to find. I did not see one in my travels from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28. Another first not getting this species for my winter list and I've not seen one yet this year.

Stephen let me know that he has not had any at his place for a few years so this pair were an exciting addition. He still has a fox sparrow tending at his feeders. The purple finches that he was seeing regularly seem to have left; so, maybe they have started their journey in migration to potential nesting grounds somewhere nearby.

Ruth Dillon spotted a golden-crowned kinglet along the rail trail in Mahone Bay on March 6. This is a special bird, which is always a treat to see. Numbers seem to be good for them this winter. On March 9, Lyall Bouchard saw the pink-footed goose at Brick Hill Lane in Second Peninsula and he reported that the clay-coloured sparrow still continued at Kissing Bridge Road. Logan Moore spotted a Barrow's goldeneye at Keji Seaside Adjunct as well as 270 Bohemian waxwings.

Terry Durnavich of Green Bay has a bird hit her window every now and then. Usually the bird is only stunned. Terry has learned over many years to pick them up and hold them to keep them warm, as they can succumb to shock very quickly. One year she had a merlin hit the house and she walked around the yard with it in her arms, keeping it warm, for a good half hour while her cats kept looking up at her and wondering what she was doing. This hawk looked up at her for a bit and then gracefully glided off into the woods. Terry called it an emotional experience.

The latest window strike was a black-capped chickadee. Terry says that she can tell if the bird is alright and ready to fly away when it blinks an eye. This one was okay and took off after about five minutes. Terry encourages everyone to rush out and pick up any bird stunned from a crash. It can make the difference between life and death especially in winter. If there are internal injuries or the bird is showing signs of abnormal activity, then chances are that it likely will not survive and consultation with a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre might be in order.

There were few postings from across the province, but Mark Dennis reported that the mute swan was still present at Pickney's Point on March 8 as was the gray heron at Ste-Anne-du-Risseau. On March 9 he saw the king eider at Cape Sable Island. Terry Boswell found a greater white-fronted goose at Shore Road in West Chezzetcook on March 11.

You can reach me at 902-693-2174 or email jrhbirder@hotmail.com.

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