A big welcome back to our common grackles, who come home every spring to raise their young in our towering white pine tree. It has lost a few limbs since last year, but I’m sure these iridescent, glossy birds will still find the tree hospitable. By mid summer we are quite tired of the grackle’s call, but since the grackles just arrived yesterday the sound is a pleasing sign that spring is pushing winter out here in New Jersey.
The backyard birds around us have seemingly overnight turned the switch from surviving the winter to searching for a mate and looking to settle down. Food perhaps is now in relative abundance, as the warmer temperatures of late have caused bugs to emerge from their winter dormancy. The male northern cardinal and carolina wren are both singing their hearts out, one chickadee is chasing another all over the place, and pairs of nuthatches, both red-breasted and white-breasted are visiting the suet feeder together. Mourning doves have been unusually vocal of late and we’ve also seen house sparrows investigating one of our new nest boxes. We even saw grackles, fresh from their migration, already displaying to one another, puffing themselves up and spreading their wings, trying to impress. Clearly they are wasting no time!
Beyond the backyard, we took a glorious sun-drenched walk in the woods yesterday at our local nature sanctuary to check in on a pair of bald eagles who live there year round. On our last visit on Valentine’s Day, we were surprised to see one of them sitting in the nest and it looked like it was stripping bark off a tree with its huge beak (perhaps mending last year’s nest? Anyone out there with any insight on this behavior?). Yesterday we saw the eagle sitting in the nest again, and my telephoto lens just couldn’t get us close enough. From this photo you can see the relative size of the nest – it is massive – compared to the big trees and the expansive Hudson River below – what a view!
Have you noticed any changes in bird behavior in the last few days? Any returning migrants? Any beautiful birdsongs? We’d love to hear about it!