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Red-Wings True Sign of Spring

Dear Bird Folks,

A few weeks ago you told us that on the Cape robins aren’t a true sign of spring. Is there a bird that is a sign of spring around here?
Joe, Brewster


Sure Joe,

The red-winged blackbirds are a sure sign of spring for me. I don’t know why the groundhog gets all the attention. Those fat things can hardly walk, let alone predict the coming spring. But I guarantee you, by the end of February or early March, no matter what the weather, your local marsh will start to fill up with the songs of the red-winged blackbird.

Even though a few quietly winter here, the vast majority of red-wings spend the winter further south. By the end of February, the males start returning to their breeding grounds and quickly begin to sing in defense of their territory. The males that arrive the earliest get to pick and defend the best breeding grounds. The best breeding grounds also attract the most females. However, an early arriving male runs the serious risk of losing out to bad weather. The female red-wings, on the other hand, are the smart ones. They don’t show up until a few weeks later, when things have warmed up a bit.

So Joe, forget the robins and that lazy groundhog and put your money on the red-winged blackbirds. There could still be snow on the ground and ice on the ponds, but as the calendar reaches the end of February, you’ll start to hear the familiar song of the make red-winged blackbirds. You’ll know that spring has begun and soon the flowers and the yard sale signs will be popping up everywhere.