Spring is an amazing season to enjoy birds, but how can you bring amazing migrants right to your yard? By understanding what spring birds need and which species are the earliest visitors, you can welcome a beautiful flock of spring birds to your yard.
The Earliest Spring Migrating Birds
Every birder eagerly awaits the return of their favorite species, from warblers and buntings to orioles and hummingbirds. Different birds migrate at different times, however, depending on what habitats they prefer, what foods they require, and how far their journeys take them. Birds that are short distance migrants (wintering in the southern US) like chipping sparrows and song sparrows arrive first, while those that winter in Central and South America (long distance migrants) like Baltimore Orioles arrive later. The timing of this migration depends primarily on what the birds eat with insect eaters generally arriving later in the spring.
Some of the earliest migrants and the first birds to signal spring are…
- Eastern phoebes
- Pine warblers
- Red-winged blackbirds
- Tree swallows
- Yellow-throated warblers
Other Signs of Spring Birds
It isn't just migrating birds that signal spring's arrival. Watching year-round residents can also help birders prepare for spring and be ready to welcome migrants. Common signs of spring among popular resident birds include…
- Wrens gathering nesting material and building nests
- Woodpeckers drumming on resonant objects to attract mates
- Louder, more complex songs from mockingbirds
- Goldfinches molting into their bright breeding colors
When birders notice these activities, spring is definitely on the way and
returning migrants will arrive soon!
Attracting Spring Birds
Spring birds need abundant resources to refuel along their journeys and to be ready to build nests. By providing the best food, water, shelter, and nesting sites in your yard, birds will trust it as a suitable spot for spring activities.
- Food for Spring Birds In early spring, natural foods may not be as abundant, and early migrants will appreciate an easy meal from a well-stocked feeding station. Sunflower seeds, mealworms, and suet are great for giving spring birds extra energy, and a nectar feeder is a must for migrating orioles and hummingbirds. Because birds will also forage naturally, planting spring-blooming flowers and minimizing pesticide use will ensure rich food supplies for hungry migrants.
- Spring Birds Need Water With melting snow and extra rain, water can be abundant in spring, but birds always need clean, reliable water sources. A heated bird bath is essential where spring arrives late or cold snaps may still occur overnight. Bird baths should be cleaned and refilled often, especially after birds bathe and splash water out of the basin.
- Shelter for Spring Birds When spring storms hit, tired birds need a safe, secure place to rest. A brush pile filled with prunings from fall landscaping cleanup or discarded holiday trees is ideal, and layered landscaping will also provide good shelter. Leaving roost boxes up in the spring will also provide fast, safe shelters for birds.
- Spring Nesting Sites Spring birds are looking for the best nesting sites to safely raise chicks. High-quality bird houses and nesting shelves are great choices, and birds will find plenty of natural nooks and crannies for nests as well. Leaving nesting material such as twigs, pine needles, and grass clippings available can also encourage birds to build nests nearby.
More Tips to Help Spring Migrating Birds
Even with a bird-friendly backyard, it might seem difficult to attract the attention of passing spring migrants. The safer and more welcoming you can make your yard, the more likely it is birds will stop by.
- Turn off outdoor lights that can confuse birds migrating at night.
- Keep pet cats indoors and take steps to keep stray cats away.
- Plant containers of colorful spring flowers to attract birds' attention.
- Use decals or tape to make windows visible and minimize bird collisions.
- Turn over garden mulch so birds have an easier time finding insects.
Every small step can help spring birds feel welcome, and soon you'll find yourself surrounded by a colorful flock of all your spring favorites.
Now that you’ve learned something about the birds migrating to your yard, go get ready for them! They will be hungry and thirsty. Get bird feeding tips on our blog to help you decide which food to provide.
If you are looking to stock up on seed before more birds show up this spring, find a store near you that sells Kaytee Wild Bird Seed.