Presenting a new series looking at what birds you can currently see in the Greater Philadelphia Area. These posts will appear regularly and update as migratory birds come and go through the region in the coming weeks and months. Let us know what you are seeing in your own backyards in the comments and on social media.
As this unusually mild winter comes to a close, many of us will start spring working from home thanks to COVID-19, making for another unusual time. While sharing a bigger cubicle with a 7 year old will present some challenges, there will be opportunities too, if we take a few moments to look and listen from the comfort of our own backyards.
For birds, it is business as usual and spring means migration. Some birds that have spent the winter here will be leaving soon and their vacancies will be filled by many more already on their way from as far away as Central and South America.
Fortunately for us, migrating songbirds do a great job of announcing their presence with you guessed it, songs. Few birds sing in the winter, and even those sing infrequently. When you begin to hear birds singing at the first inkling of dawn, it’s a sure sign that spring is really getting under way.
In our area, this spring phenomenon known as the “dawn chorus” has already begun, though its not quite reached the phenomenal stage yet. Winter residents such as American Robin, Tufted Titmouse, White-throated Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Carolina Wren and Carolina Chickadee are all warming up with songs to proclaim their territories and attract mates.
Dark-eyed Junco and White-throated Sparrow will soon be departing to their summer breeding grounds to the north. Both species are often found in mixed species flocks during winter and migration. If you want to get a look at them before they go, here are a few photos from the Academy’s VIREO Collection to help you spot them in your backyard while you have what might be an unusual opportunity for you.
VIREO (Visual Resources for Ornithology) is the foremost global collection of bird photographs taxonomically curated at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University. Most photographic field guides and apps utilize photos from VIREO to help connect people to birds around the world. Audubon Guide Apps, the Stokes Guide to Birds of North America and the Fieldstone Guide to Birds of North America use VIREO photos almost exclusively.
You can see Dark-eyed Juncos and White-throated Sparrows Through most of April, and some will start moving out soon. Juncos start leaving earlier and most will be gone by May. White-throated Sparrows will be few weeks behind, with most gone by mid-May.”
by Dan Thomas
VIREO Collection & Intellectual Property Manager