Eastern Bluebird. (Photo - © Beth Donald)
Indigo Bunting. (Photo - © Ed Schneider)
Northern Flicker. (Photo - © Bill Bunn)
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. (Photo - Margaret Dunbar)
Return of the Winter Migrators
Posted on Thursday May 24, 2018
The mysteries of exactly how migrating birds find their way is yet to be completely solved. It is suspected that land formations, star constellations, and the earth’s magnetic field may all play a role in navigation to the warmer southern locations and back again.
Migration is likely also triggered by temperature and daylight hours, causing the individual birds to have a ‘serious case of the munchies’. The birds must first have stored enough energy in the form of fat prior to leaving.
These migrators will eat constantly until instinct sends them on their way, to avoid the coming food and water shortages resulting from cold weather and snow cover.
Some of our winter migrators are back already, bringing with them the sounds of warmer weather. You may have heard the familiar territorial calls of the Red Winged Blackbird, American Robin, American Goldfinch and Brown Thrasher. But have a closer listen and you may hear some of these other song birds that spend their summers in the Ottawa Valley.
The Rose-Breasted Grosbeak is a common bird of deciduous forest habitats. Their calls are short, sharp, and penetrating, sometimes likened to the sound of a sneaker on a gym floor. While their song is rich and sweetly whistled, composition of many notes that alternately rise and fall. Most people describe the grosbeak’s song as softer and more melodious than that of the American Robin.
Male Indigo Buntings whistle a bright, lively song of sharp, clear, high-pitched notes that lasts about two seconds. Notes or phrases are often repeated in pairs: what! what! where? where? see it! see it!. Their calls are comprised of a short, sharp, thin, one-syllable spit or chip. Look for Indigo Buntings in weedy and brushy areas, especially where fields meet forests.
Eastern Bluebirds live in meadows and openings surrounded by trees that offer suitable nest holes. Their most common call is a soft, low-pitched tu-a-wee or queedle with a querulous tone. The song of the Eastern Bluebird is a fairly low-pitched, warbling song made up of several phrases, or harsher chattering notes interspersed by the whistles each consisting of one to three short notes.
Northern Flickers can be found in open habitats near trees, including woodlands, edges, yards, and parks. Their calls, a loud, rolling rattle with a piercing tone that rises and falls in volume several times, can be heard in the spring and early summer. The wicka-wicka-wicka call lasts seven or eight seconds and is quite similar to the call of the Pileated Woodpecker.
Species information and
photos were gathered from
The Cornell Lab of