We are experiencing a compressed spring migration.
A miracle happens every spring when our incredible birds return to northern climes to continue their promise of summer to come. This year I began to wonder if we would see the usual visitors or would they choose to pass over our yard in a rush to return to their nesting ground. It seems that most species were delayed about two weeks, no doubt due to the never-ending winter, but they are now showing up in huge numbers.
White-throated, White-crowned, Harris's, Clay-colored, Lincoln's, Song, Chipping and Tree Sparrows carpet the ground beneath the feeders and stir the leaf litter under the hedge. Gorgeous Rose-breasted Grosbeaks vie for the best perch on the feeders with Blue Jays shrieking insults at all and sundry. Mourning Doves, cooing softly, preen one another on a spruce branch. A lone Ovenbird walks sedately on the ground, following the line of karagana shrubbery. A Brown Creeper climbs the old box elder trunk, spiralling upward before flying to the foot of another old tree and beginning again. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers hang from the suet cages nibbling on nut-studded cakes of suet. A Northern Yellow-shafted Flicker drums on a utility pole, gleaning insects buried in the wood. White-breasted and Red-breasted Nuthatches dart in to snatch a seed from one of the platform feeders. A flash of bright orange announces a male Baltimre Oriole trying to find a choice perch among the host of Brown-headed Cowbirds, Common Grackles and House Sparrows. Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers quench their thirst on the rim of the concrete bird bath.
Suddenly a shadow passes overhead and the birds scatter for shelter. The yard is still for long moments, as if every living creature is holding its breath. A swift and silent killer,a slender Sharp-shinned Hawk alights on the feeder pole. It perches motionless except for its constantly scanning eyes searching out a potential victim.
No luck this time and the hunter flies away looking for another likely meal. Within minutes the yard is filled with a cacophony of bird songs, calls and chirps as the flocks of many colors converge on the feeders once more.