Spring Arrivals, April Edition: Your Timeline for Returning Species

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

We are finally here! It is spring and we are in the thick of migration. Each day, new species return to the region as others are on their way. This is a very exciting time of year for birders. Not only do we get to look forward to and witness many favourite species returning such as Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Baltimore Orioles, the vibrant colours of mating plumage really heighten the experience. Birds are singing loudly throughout courtship and suddenly our spaces are filled with vibrant colours and beautiful songs. For birders, it is the most wonderful time of the year. 

I wanted to take a moment to really dig into the excitement by providing a comprehensive list of when some of our most beloved species will be returning and in turn, what you can offer in your yard to keep them around. 

Let's start with the species we have already seen returning to the region. We have had reported sightings of: 

  • Red-winged Blackbirds (our first sign of spring!)
  • Eastern Phoebe 
  • Chipping Sparrows 
  • Turkey Vultures 
  • Great Blue Herons 
  • Killdeer 

Killdeer. Photo by Shayna Hartley. 

The next two months, April and May, tend to be when the bulk of migrants return. 

Birds to expect in April: 

  • Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows will return early in the month. Tree Swallows are cavity nesters and will look to nest in natural cavities in dead trees, old woodpecker cavities, abandoned Cliff Swallow burrows, and nest boxes. Placing a nesting box in your yard is a great way to attract this stunning species, which will lend you the opportunity to see them raise their young. They are aerial insectivores and prefer to live near water, where insects are most abundant. If your yard is an ideal habitat, consider putting up some nesting boxes in the coming weeks, before mid-April, and hope that you get some residents this nesting season.
Tree Swallow. Photo by Heather Kerrison. 

  • Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Towhees, Fox Sparrows, and Tree Sparrows are all considered early April migrants. Sparrow species enjoy Nyjer seed, Finch Blend, No-Mess Blends, Sunflower Chips, Sunflower Seeds, and Bark Butter. Additionally, try offering a WBU Nest Building Material ball to encourage them to pull material and nest close by!
Fox Sparrow eating out of a Modern Rustic Hanging Tray Feeder. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

Tree Sparrow. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

  • Purple Martins return by the middle of the month. Be sure to have their houses ready if you have some.
  • Pine Warblers, Brown Thrashers, Palm Warblers, American Bittern, Chimney Swifts, and Chipping Sparrows all typically return in late April. As more warblers will be moving through, try offering mealworms to entice them to stop in your yard throughout their journey. They also like suet, particularly if insects are involved. Try offering our Bug, Nut, and Berry Cylinder variety during this time.
Pine Warbler at a Suet Cylinder. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

Palm warbler. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

Other nature happenings to be prepared for in April:
  • Eastern Bluebirds begin nesting and have finished nest selection by the end of the month. Be sure, if you have a nesting box, it is out and ready.
  • Baltimore Orioles and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will return in early May, make sure you dig out their feeders, clean them and have fresh supplies of BirdBerry Jelly, oranges, and nectar. We also wanted to gently remind you that you should always avoid using nectar that has artificial colours and sweeteners, as it actually can be harmful to them. Red dye is unnecessary. All you need is a simple recipe of one part white sugar to four parts boiled water. Orioles enjoy this mix too. We have heard of some VERY early Ruby-throated hummingbirds.. have your feeders and nectar at the ready!

Stay tuned for the "May Edition" of this blog post, where I will further detail the species that will be arriving and other nature happenings for that month. Start your to-do lists and why not start a spring yard-list for birds that you see visiting your yard? It can be really exciting to see listed out how much biodiversity exists in your own space. If you need some further inspiration, read our former blog Why You Should Start a Yard Bird List.  

It is always lovely to have something to look forward to and if you are a nature lover, the spring is an incredible time to look forward to so much new life, colour, and song. Use this blog to prepare yourselves and get excited for all this upcoming month has to bring. 

Happy spring!