Sure Signs of Spring

Much of North America experienced a rough winter. Record snowfalls and plunging temperatures courtesy of a Polar Vortex that made numerous appearances made it feel like five winters all rolled into one big, bad, cold season.

Yet despite what the groundhog predicted, if you believe in rodents, spring really is just around the corner and if you take the time to observe bird behavior, you will see the signs for yourself.

One day last week while Chris, our office administrator and I were standing outside in below zero temperatures and soaking up the warmth of the morning sun. We heard the unmistakable sound of a Blue jay, which reminds me of a squeaky clothesline pulley, and then watched a small flock of them mobbing a crow in a nearby tree. The jay’s were clearly trying to convince the crow that he wasn’t welcome in their territory.

A sure sign of spring is seeing a crow fly past carrying a stick or twig. A sign that ‘nestorations’ are taking place in preparation of the breeding season.

Depending on the winter, some American robins will stick around for the season, but this past winter, I didn’t see any. On Saturday, as the temperature reached a seemingly balmy 2 degree Celsius, I heard the unmistakable sound of a Robin and then saw a small flock in a nearby crab apple tree, plucking off the dried fruit one-by-one, taking advantage of the bounty until the snow melts and the earthworms migrate to the surface.

Another early arrival is the Red-winged blackbird, and again on Saturday, I heard my first of the year – always a sure sign that weather will be warming so they must return and defend a breeding territory.

Here in southern Ontario, Mourning doves tend to tolerate the winter season. They rarely vocalize during the cold months, however. The male Mourning dove will begin to coo to attract a mate at the first hint of spring.

No matter if you’re an avid birder, or just a casual observer. Take the time to watch and listen to our feathered friends and they’ll assure you that spring really will arrive again – soon.

Have you seen any sure signs of spring? Leave a comment below to let us know!


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  1. Carol Berglund March 13, 2014 9:26 am

    Heard first mourning dove cooing here at our house in Madison yesterday morning.

  2. jean chitwood March 12, 2014 11:05 am

    last night i heard several cranes calling. this morning i saw one flying by. i’m sure he was a sandhill – too far away to tell for sure, tho.
    good to know spring will come – snowing today.


  3. Cheryl March 12, 2014 12:32 am

    Saw a flock of sandhill cranes on Sunday fly over head. About 25-30. And one lone one close by. We are located in northeast Illinois
    Lake county

  4. jeff March 11, 2014 9:50 pm

    3 purple martins were spotted in here in Southern Indiana this morning!!!! Spring peepers too last few days.

  5. Christina (barncat11) March 11, 2014 7:53 pm

    Yes Spring is beginning here in S. Illinois too. Saw my first bluebirds of the season today checking out one of my boxes. Have had a couple of American robins hanging out the past week or so, but today at least a dozen. The town’s lake has been active with migrants and the local squirrels are getting frisky.

  6. Marilyn Fewster March 11, 2014 6:40 pm

    My daffodils are starting to bloom and the bluebirds and determining who is going to use the nest box. Western North Carolina.

  7. Linda Reichert March 11, 2014 4:32 pm

    March 11, 2014. First Sandhill of the spring in Loganville Wisconsin!

  8. Keith March 11, 2014 2:25 pm

    the owls, cardinals and wrens all are very vocal

  9. Betty Comstock March 11, 2014 1:54 pm

    Here in northern Illinois, the cardinals are singing from the treetops in the early mornings. The juncos are on the move away and the flocks of blackbirds have been coming for about three weeks. No robins, we still have a lot of snow on the ground and have warnings for more tonight!

  10. Ann Gillis March 11, 2014 12:34 pm

    Last Friday I discovered a new nest of a Carolina Wren in a flower pot on a shelf just out our back garage door.

  11. Ann Gillis March 11, 2014 12:30 pm

    Here in southeast Georgia I see big changes in bird behavior in my yard. Exactly one week ago a very large flock of cedar waxwings stopped at our bird baths for a drink. They stayed two days, just long enough to eat all of the holly berries and continued their journey north.
    More chipping sparrows that I could begin to count have been here since fall. Last Friday they were here. Today very few are here. It is making a quick change here. Spring is here now for us.

  12. Deane Bauman March 11, 2014 12:03 pm

    Brackettville. Texas, the Kestral’s have left, so have the Sharp-Shinned Hawks. Also a lot of the ducks are on their way North, and the Oak trees are budding out!

  13. Russell Allison March 11, 2014 10:26 am

    In Indiana we have been seeing signs of spring. Turkey Vultures, Red winged Blackbirds, flocks of migrating Geese and Sandhill Cranes flying overhead. Great time of the year. Go Whoopers..

  14. Chix Laces March 11, 2014 10:09 am

    Here in Southern Wisconsin we heard the glorious song of flying and roosting cranes, yesterday for the first time this
    year…one of my very favorite first signs of Spring

  15. Jim L. March 11, 2014 9:56 am

    For us northern Ohioans, we had our first of Spring Turkey vultures soar over the Cuyahoga Valley National Park! Also, our lone pair of nesting eagles are on eggs for the second year in a row! Bring on the warblers next. 🙂 Jim

  16. Carol March 11, 2014 9:31 am

    We saw the first robin of the year in our yard yesterday here in southern Wisconsin. Even though there’s still a couple of feet of snow on the ground, maybe there’s hope!

  17. PL March 11, 2014 9:29 am

    We had our first red-winged blackbirds visit our backyard feeders over the weekend. Just in time for the predicted 4-8 inches of snow tomorrow in Chicagoland, yikes!

  18. craniachumbird March 11, 2014 9:23 am

    I’m in NW Ohio and I’ve been getting Red Wing Blackbirds and Grackles for the last few days. We also had a Killdeer yesterday. I’m worried about the Killdeer that have arrived since we are going to get a snowstorm late tonight and into tomorrow.

  19. Malcom Strickland March 11, 2014 9:22 am

    The bluebirds have claimed the box in my back yard and I now have 4 eggs in it. The Robins have gone so spring is here in NW FLA.

  20. Lori (loriearn) March 11, 2014 9:20 am

    Here in NJ we are being bombarded with grackles & red winged black birds. I see large flocks of robins all over the place. And my mourning doves are “a-cooing”! Spring – what a glorious word!!

  21. Ruth Mitchell March 11, 2014 9:02 am

    And another Floridian here….a sure sign of spring is the calling of birds, looking for a mate…we have a Tufted Titmouse that awakens us each morning, just as the sun pops up over the horizon with his loud, sweet call . Last night I could hear Owls in the distance…calling to each other…love ( And Spring) is in the air!!!!

  22. jean chitwood March 11, 2014 9:02 am

    forgot to mention that the tree buds have been swelling for the last couple of weeks – very late for them. we can usually tell in the middle of feb. makes me wonder what the maple trees that give sap in the spring will do this year.

  23. jean chitwood March 11, 2014 8:59 am

    just saw the first three robins of spring yesterday. in the snow, but here. in s.w. wisc.

  24. geri buffington March 11, 2014 8:51 am

    Starlings, grackles, robins, and the sweet song of chickadees all herald the advent of spring here in Maine.

  25. James Swatzell March 11, 2014 8:43 am

    Yes, we all know that the wonderful winter is about to come to a end. Here in Decatur, Alabama the last of our Sandhill’s and Whoopers have gone north. We are now enjoying the spring sounds of the new arrivals. Not to worry, it will not be long till winter arrives again with the “Polar Vortex” bringing the loud enjoyable sounds of the cranes.

  26. Jan March 11, 2014 8:08 am

    Yes, Heather. We too have seen Robins in an ornamental fruit tree out our condo window in Minneapolis, MN area. Lately robins have been staying the winter, but it was still good to see them. Now we just need the snow to melt. Last fall I bought a large ball of left-over wool wrapped in grape vine to put out for nesting material. Sounds like it’s time to put it out.

  27. Susan O’Connell March 11, 2014 7:32 am

    I’m in Florida too, and although I still see a few of the migrating robins, almost all have left. The yellow rumped warblers are still around, and I expect them to leave soon. The wrens have already started their nest in the housing of our back porch ceiling fan again!

  28. Kate Crook March 11, 2014 6:35 am

    Here in Florida, the birds tell us spring is coming too. Yesterday, I watched courting ospreys. He hovered above calling while she flitted from tree to tree playing hard to get. The mockingbirds have been noisily defending their territories for several weeks. We do still have a lot of “snowbirds” here!