Spring Has Arrived, and So Have the Birds!

It is that time of year again when the many species of birds return from their winter vacation, just like the senior citizens we call “snowbirds.” The Hummingbirds generally spend the winter months in South and Central America, unlike the snowbirds who are more likely to “roost” in sunny Florida.

 

One of the most popular and amazing birds that love our fair state is the hummingbird. The one we see the most often is the beautiful Ruby-throated hummingbird. They usually begin to arrive in Spring as early as April and stick around until about September. So, as we speak, thousands of hummingbirds are headed our way to Illinois, and what a sight they are to see.

If you are into bird watching and a bird lover and want to visit your yard, put out the hummingbird feeders and fill them with sugar water. That will attract them and other birds as well. Put these out soon in case they arrive early.

 

Other birds to look for:

Waterthrushes can return to the swamplands of southern Illinois by the end of March, and other waterfowl who head for their breeding grounds in the rivers and wetlands of our state. They will feed on the plant life around ponds, wetlands, and the shallow edges of our lakes. You will also see many species of ducks that come to Illinois in the Spring, including the mallard, gadwall, northern pintail, northern shoveler, green or blue-winged teal, and the American wigeon.

Pack a picnic and head out to one of our lakes here in Marshall. One can see the diving ducks dipping down to catch fish and deeper water plants on the deeper lakes. There is no prettier sight than one of them skittering along on the water’s surface to get the speed up to take flight. If you sit still and wait, you will likely see the ducks, fishing, diving, and taking flight.

You may also see a variety of cranes and bluebirds, robins, blackbirds, egrets, and loons around the waterways, including reservoirs. Great blue herons and double-crested cormorants will be building their large stick nests in the treetops near our lakes and rivers.

Many kinds of sparrows migrate to Illinois in Spring. Song sparrows sing their lovely song in the early morning to brighten our day.

 

California is not the only place to see swallows. We have our share here, too, and a favorite is the Tree Swallow. This busy little bird helps keep the insect population down on our lakes by snatching them off the water’s surface.

Purple martins are prone to like those birdhouses you set up in your yard. Make sure they know they are welcome to come home for the summer.

Breeding herons and egrets return to Illinois in April. Great blue herons and double-crested cormorants are already starting to build or enhance their large, bulky stick nests in their traditional nest-colony sites. Look for these groups of stick nests in the treetops near lakes and rivers.

Some birds pass through and may not stay to breed but look for warblers, vireos, orioles, and tanagers as they pass by or stop for a short visit.

 

What is the best way to go bird-watching in Marshall, Illinois?

Lincoln Trail State Park is an excellent place to bird-watch. Walking among the trails or just sitting by the lake, you will witness so many lovely types of birds and plant life coming back to cheer us up and chase away the winter blues. Take a boat out on the water and sit still while you see lots of bird species. Bring your binoculars to get a closer look at our feathered friends.

Mill Creek Park has a beautiful lake as well, and there will be lots of bird watching, maybe even a pontoon ride which can be arranged. Take a notebook along and mark each type of bird you observe. Make it a yearly thing and get the whole family involved.

No matter where you choose to bird watch, Marshall, Illinois, will have its share of bird wildlife to witness now that Spring is in the air. Warm Spring air brings thoughts of flowers, birds, bees, romance, and… baseball. Let us welcome new beginnings and look forward to a fresh start as everything blooms again and the birds return to enjoy the warmer weather just as much as we will.

Happy Spring, Marshall!