The spring bird migration is upon us, with neotropical warblers and songbirds arriving in North Carolina after journeying thousands of miles north from their wintering grounds in Central and South America. Though some will stay the summer, for others North Carolina is a mere pit-stop before heading on to breeding grounds in the northern United States and Canada.
eBird, an innovative citizen science project that allows birders to record their observations and search through data, is a valuable tool for following migration, and many birders have already begun recording spring species. See below for a birding snapshot at a few of TLC’s nature preserves!
Common Yellowthroats are some of the first warblers seen during the migration season. They are easy to identify, as the males sport black face masks as well as bright yellow throats and chests. Look for them in the field habitats of Horton Grove, where they will forage both in bushes, trees, and on the ground. Northern Parulas and Yellow-throated Warblers are also moving in, and all will stay all summer.
The wide range of habitats at Johnston Mill, including forests, fields, and riparian zones, attracts many migrants. April brings Black-and-white Warblers, as well as Hooded, Yellow, Black-throated Blue, and Yellow-throated Warblers. Summer and Scarlet Tanagers also call the nature preserve their summer home, so keep your eyes peeled for flashes of red!
With its unique bluff habitat, White Pines Nature Preserve has always been a birding hot spot. Ovenbirds, secretive relatives of the more colorful warblers, look for food and run along the ground, though will fly to safety if spooked. Bright yellow Prothonotary Warblers can be found throughout the summer, as are American Redstarts and Prairie Warblers. Cape May Warblers however, can only be seen in the spring and fall.
TLC staff will be leading two upcoming bird walks during spring migration. Join Bo Howes, Associate Director of Conservation, at Snow Hill on Saturday, April 11th at 8 a.m. Register here. Diana Hackenburg, Communications Manager, will be leading a different birding group at Horton Grove, Tuesday, April 21st, at 7:30 a.m. Register here.