[Tweeters] February Dawn Chorus: Varied Thrushes and Juncos

Wayne Weber contopus at telus.net
Sat Feb 27 10:00:19 PST 2021


In late spring, one can often hear a "dawn chorus" of 8 to 10 species of
birds, with the species depending on where you are. For the last week,
however, I have been hearing a dawn chorus consisting mainly of two species:
Varied Thrushes and Dark-eyed (Oregon) Juncos! These two species are singing
vigorously every morning in my neighborhood, which was built into a young
Douglas-fir forest, and still includes many large Douglas-fir trees. They
are occasionally joined in song by American Robins and Black-capped
Chickadees, but the latter two species do not seem to be singing as
consistently or frequently as the Varied Thrushes and Juncos.

The Varied Thrushes are of particular interest. They do not breed in the
immediate neighborhood, but are consistently present here from February
through April, disappearing later in the spring, and breeding mainly at
higher altitudes in my area. They are nearly always invisible, singing from
deep within the foliage of a dense Douglas-fir, but this morning,
atypically, one of them was singing right out in the open in the upper
branches of a leafless beech tree.

Most of our permanent-resident bird species begin to sing soon after
February 1st, as soon as the daylength starts to increase and the production
of male hormones also increases. In my area, other than the 4 species
already mentioned, the list includes Song Sparrow, Bewick's Wren, Pacific
Wren, Hutton's Vireo, and Northern Flicker (which has a song of sorts, even
though it's not a songbird). The frequency of song increases steadily in
late February, and by mid-March, most of the resident songbirds are singing
full-blast. Later, they will be joined by all the neotropical migrants which
don't arrive until April or May.

It doesn't feel very springlike this morning. I had to scrape a thin layer
of ice off my car windows before heading out. Never mind that though, the
birds think it's spring, and that's good enough for me! I have to admit--
although it sounds un-Canadian-- that I'm not a big fan of winter. This
winter, especially, has seemed to drag on forever, made even more onerous by
the Covid-19 restrictions and inability to visit the usual winter hangouts
of us "snowbirds". Any sign of spring is welcome, and I look forward to
warmer, sunnier days when a whole raft of bird species will be singing.

I hope that all of you are seeing (and/or hearing) signs of spring as well,
and that we can all look forward to the end of the Covid-19 crisis and to
warmer days and better birding.

Good luck and good birding,

Wayne Weber

Delta, BC, Canada

contopus at telus.net

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