[Tweeters] February Dawn Chorus: Varied Thrushes and Juncos

George Heleker earthman1950 at whidbey.com
Sat Feb 27 12:08:30 PST 2021

I thoroughly enjoyed Wayne's post, and I echo his sentiments about this
winter, covid, and the spring songsters that I too thoroughly enjoy
every year.

This morning I walked out at dawn to do my usual listening to the local
Great horned Owls and found that I crunched my way to our field over
pathways covered with the pea sized hail that was left by yet another
convergence zone last night here on South Whidbey Island.

At our place, the Song Sparrows have been singing at dawn for several
weeks, but the robins and towhees started singing just a few days ago.
The Varied Thrushes started up just a few days ago too. Also heard
singing this morning, besides the owls, were Red-winged Blackbirds, a
Bewick's Wren, and a very subdued Pacific Wren that sounded like he
wasn't quite convinced that it was spring yet. A week ago, a Mourning
Dove started singing, and I've heard him singing every day at dawn that
I've been outside, always in what seems like the same place. The
Hutton's Vireos have sung once in a while for a month or so, almost
always on sunny days, but I haven't heard one at dawn yet.

A Purple Finch sang a few songs later in the morning today, the first
I've heard here this year, and always a welcome sound in the yard. And
naturally, there have been off and on songs from the House Finches. The
Flickers and local Hairy Woodpecker have been drumming for a couple
weeks. Although I have yet to hear the Black-capped Chickadees sing at
dawn this year, there have been two here singing once in a while,
sometimes countersinging for 1-3 minutes for several weeks. And the
chickadees here on the island from just north of Coupeville and south
have their own unique four note song that I have not heard anywhere

There have been more and more junco songs each day. One spring highlight
that we especially enjoy is about mid-March when so many juncos are
singing. We have 100+ of them every winter visiting our feeder areas and
it sounds as if most of them are still here when they are singing
frequently, filling our entire property with their musical trills. A
nice sunny morning with the juncos and others filling the air with
song................life is good!

One doesn't need a calendar to know when spring begins, the birds are
already telling us it's here in spite of the cool weather.

Happy spring birding!

George Heleker

Whidbey Island, WA.

On 2021-02-27 10:00, Wayne Weber wrote:

> Tweeters,


> 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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