Spring has officially arrived, yet occasional reminders of winter will linger into this season.


Regardless of the weather, the spring migration of birds will proceed. Sure, certain weather systems may affect the birds’ date of arrival by a few days but you can be assured that they are on the way! Since many birds start their migration from South America, it’s a very long trip!


During the month of March, we have already seen several species of birds arrive from the southern states like robins, bluebirds, red-wings, grackles, killdeer, tundra swans, Canada geese, various ducks, song sparrows, kestrels, turkey vultures, and others.


During the month of April several more species will arrive from the southern US and some points further south. We should start seeing the eastern phoebe (generally as early as March 30), eastern meadowlark, more flickers, more waterfowl and marsh birds, tree swallows, native sparrows (including fox, field, swamp, vesper, and savannah), several species of hawks, and generally around April 30, the first rose-breasted grosbeaks. There are several more that will appear in April, however, the biggest variety of bird species will actually arrive in May – those most dependent upon insects.


Hopefully our May this year will be a warm one as opposed to last year’s. The benefit of that cool May last year was a huge influx of Baltimore orioles at our jelly and citrus feeders throughout the month and lingering well into the summer. The grape jelly sales at the grocery stores were really amazing. Most years when we have more normal and thus warmer May temperatures, there are more insects and more nectar-filled tree blossoms to feed the orioles. What we saw with the last year’s “oriole invasion” was a true phenomenon.


So, the question is if they will raid the feeders again this spring? Even if we have a warmer May, I have a feeling the orioles will be pretty busy at your jelly and citrus feeders just because so many of them got used to finding all of these goodies at your feeders last year. But I doubt the “oriole invasion” could surpass what happened last year. It seemed like on May 2 last year that the orioles just fell out of the sky and blanketed all of us here in WNY! It was really fascinating. If you were lucky enough to also attract the more timid orchard orioles, you got an added bonus. The orchard oriole male is a much darker oriole with brick red color instead of flashy orange and I think a little bit smaller.


This is the time to make sure that we are getting our bluebird nest boxes up and to clean out the ones that are already up. Over the winter, often the white-footed deer mice occupy the nest boxes and can make a stinky mess of them so you may have to leave the box open for a couple of days to air out. You may find that your boxes may need some repairs or need replacing. I’ve been busy squeezing in some bluebird nest box construction when I get a free hour here or there. I sell some and others I just put up on some country side roads where it looks like good bluebird habitat. If you missed my last column (I write every two weeks) all about bluebirds let me know and I can send it to you or you can generally go online and find it.


As you know, tree swallows also use the nest boxes which is just fine. They are really nice birds as well and the bluebird won’t be using all of the nest boxes anyways. A bluebird pair generally won’t allow another pair to nest within 300 to 400 feet of their nest box. Anyways, unfortunately every year around very late March or very early April some tree swallows arrive way too early and end up perishing due to lack of insects and warmth as April can have several waves of cold weather systems. Most tree swallows come back in mid or later April -- along with other swallows – all of which don’t use nest boxes.


If you are planning on attracting purple martins – best near larger bodies of water – now would be the time to get busy putting up your purple martin house or gourd complex. During the early part of April some purple martin “scouts” come through to help investigate where they might nest this year. Most established purple martin colonies return to their same nesting complexes year after year, but some will break off to establish a new “community.” That’s what I am hoping for at our property at Silver Lake this year!


So, I’ve barely scratched the surface on what to watch for and what to do at this time of year! Good thing that the birds’ return is spread over the course of three months! Feel free to check in with me at any time via email (lesliekunze@aol.com) or call/text (585-813-2676) and I will get back to you. Also, if you are interested in attending a bird ID walk let me know. As spring unfolds, don’t forget to let the fascinating world of birds be a big part of your life!