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It’s in your nature: Leaves are bursting from buds while trees bustle with spring birds

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    One of the earliest warblers to appear is the palm warbler. Look low, because they feed in low vegetation and even on the ground. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS

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    Hopefully your birding walk into the forest will allow you to see a beautiful male scarlet tanager. Look higher in the trees to enjoy one of nature’s wonders.

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    Look for yellow warblers, particularly along stream banks shortly after the willows begin “leafing out.”

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    Arriving about the same time as the scarlet tanager (the first week of May) are the rose-breasted grosbeaks. Some may visit your feeders.

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    Look low, often scratching through the forest floor leaves, for the rufous-sided towhee. They should be making their appearance in the next few days.

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    Just about the time the fruit trees and ornamentals are blooming, look for the brightly colored male Baltimore orioles to arrive and “please your eyes.”

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    Spring turkey hunters will hear and see the ovenbirds that have arrived about the same time as their hunting season begins (listen for their Teacher, Teacher, Teacher songs).

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    Brown thrashers should be arriving on your lawn edges and thickets in mid-April. Listen for their twice repeated songs.

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    Like clockwork, house wrens find my backyard almost always within a day or two of May 1.

Published April 13. 2019 06:20AM


For birders, whether seasoned or novices, the next four or five weeks will offer you excellent opportunities.

My yearly bird list, beginning Jan. 1, slowly reaches about 65 or 70 species by mid-April. However, from mid-April until mid-May I add 80 to 90 new species to that list.

You will have noticed that the dozens of juncos that frequented your feeders have all but vanished (heading north to their breeding areas) and will now be replaced by the summer resident chipping sparrows that show up to some easy seed sources. Barn and rough-winged swallows, towhees and brown thrashers can be expected to arrive back in the Times News’ farm and forest areas about the time this column gets published.

In the last two weeks of April, expect pine, palm and yellow warblers, Baltimore orioles, house wrens, sandpipers, and as the month ends, an early ruby-throated hummingbird as well.

BUT, when May arrives, the doors burst open. Find three or four days in your busy schedules in May’s first few weeks and take your binoculars for some walks.

The lower Carbon and Schuylkill County areas will host many, many species. Some will be returning to their birth places to nest again, but most will only be stopping to feed in the treetops or shrubs to “refuel” before taking their next nighttime move northward to their breeding areas.

On “good mornings,” you may observe 60 or 70 species of birds in that three- or four-hour outing. Bolstering your annual list will be one or two dozen warbler species, vireos, thrushes, flycatchers and, if you are patient enough, nature may offer you a view of a breathtaking scarlet tanager or rose-breasted grosbeak. (The latter two do nest in the Times News region, however the dense forest foliage of summer hides them from your view.)

As the tent caterpillars begin feeding on cherry and fruit tree leaves, look and listen for both the yellow-billed or black-billed cuckoos (mid- to late May). When May ends, so will the “rush” of the migrants.

Find some time now until mid-May to enjoy some of these beautiful birds. You may wish to take a small note pad along to jot down the names of those sighted.

That “May window of opportunity” will go fast. Get out there, keep those eyes open and enjoy!

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: Which of these oak species does not have pointed lobed leaves? A. red oak, B. black oak, C. scarlet oak, D. chestnut oak.

Last Week’s Trivia: The long-eared, short-eared and barn owl numbers are all dropping and are seldom seen in the state anymore.

Contact Barry Reed at









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