When the Birds Return

One of the Early Joys of Spring in Vermont

Compared with many parts of the country, spring takes its own sweet time arriving in Vermont. Right now, there’s still plenty of snow in the mountains, and on the ground around us. Mud season hasn’t even started in earnest! Soon enough boots will be swallowed up whole, only to reemerge to leave a daily set of fresh footprints at our doorstep.

At the store, we can’t wait to see all of our spring visitors again. But before those friends, old and new, start returning, we get spring visitors of the feathered kind. The very first arrivals are the red-winged blackbirds. They are easy to spot, even without binoculars. Just look for their telltale bright red shoulder patch. Another “early bird” to Vermont is the American kestrel, or sparrow red-winged black birdhawk. This handsome bird is easily identified, even from afar, by its unique ability to hover in midair! One of the great underappreciated things about spring birds is their early-morning chorus. It’s literally music to my ears. As an amateur birder, I can’t identify all of the trills, tweets, and chirping from sound alone. But judging by the birds at my feeder, I can tell they belong to robins, bluebirds, warblers, sparrows, and our state bird, the hermit thrush. All those intricate vocalizations come together like a concert series of “solo” performances. It’s pretty amazing, and a very soothing way to start the day.

Bird feeders are an excellent way to invite local birds to your backyard or porch. There are lots of kinds to choose from, too.

In Vermont, folks set out feeders shaped like our famed covered bridges. No matter how we encounter them—by sight or sound—birds can bring endless joy and beauty into our lives.

Happy birding, and a happy early spring, everyone!

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Gardner Orton For the Orton Family

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