Sounds of spring - listening for the arrival of spring

The days are getting longer, the weather is warmer, and spring is finally near. The transition from winter to spring brings new energy to the atmosphere. I like to listen to the arrival of the spring among many signs of spring, like the melting of snow, new buds on trees, here in New England, sugar sap flowing into buckets, and the chirping of birds. 

The Eastern Phoebe, one of the earliest spring migrants, announces the season’s change. My backyard Phoebe was singing in the first week of March as expected. As the weather warms up and ponds begin to thaw, spring peepers emerge from their hibernation. They make a loud “Peep” call in early March, creating a musical chorus at dusk.

Now is the time to keep ears open for the wailing kill-deer call of Killdeer in the golf courses, lawns, or even parking lots. 

A quick visit to the local wildlife refuse warms my heart when I hear the vibrant conk-ka-ree song belted out by a red-winged blackbird sitting on top of a cattail. Common grackles are seen and heard in the marshes, along with the red-winged blackbirds. I love watching the aerial acrobatics of swallows as they swoop down and veer from side to side over the lake, catching flying insects. 

Early in the morning, I often hear the loud song of the song sparrow or the melodious whistle of a white-throated sparrow that sounds like “oh-Sweet-Canada-Canada-Canada”. Our resident American Robins are also very active and loudly singing “cheerily, cheer up, cheer up”. Their cheery song is a sign that spring is around the corner. After spring drizzles, you can often see them hopping around the lawn, pulling earthworms out of the ground. Hairy and dawny woodpeckers can be heard drumming on trees, marking their territories.

I head to my favorite beach by mid-March, looking for my favorite migrants - Piping Plovers. They are the first shorebirds to arrive at the beach to set up their nesting territories. The males arrive first and begin to stake out their breeding territory. I always hear their high-pitched piping call, used to declare the ownership, before seeing them. If the other male enters other male’s territory, they make a rattling sound, bobbling their head. They are seen performing a parallel-run display to defend their territory. 

During my walk to the beach, it is common to hear the nasal peenting sound of the American Woodcock. This location is also one of the best places to listen to the whip-poor-will call of the Eastern Whip-poor-will. 

Early spring is an excellent time to get out and listen to the sounds of nature - a perfect remedy to beat the winter blues. 

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