Spring Birds To Look Out For in Your Garden

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One of the first signs of spring across the U.S. is the change of bird song drifting in the canopy. Birds will sing and tweet throughout the winter, but as early as mid-February they announce the imminent breeding season through drawn-out tunes and whistles. 

Once you hear the change in birdsong, it isn’t long before southern migratory bird species arrive. These birds are sure signs of spring, and with their arrival comes the promise of warm weather and lengthening days. Keep your bird feeders clean and stocked, set out a bird bath and perhaps a nestbox, and you’ll be sure to invite some migratory birds into your garden. 

US Birds to Look Out for in Your Garden This Spring

The spring birds that may appear in your garden this year depend on your region. 

Many migratory birds winter in the far south, so it’s common for spring arrivals in the northern United States to be wintering birds in the south. The south is also the first place for birds who winter in the tropics to arrive. 

As we dive into each spring bird species, I’ll cover their migratory pattern and when that bird may arrive in your area. That way, you can prepare for their window of arrival, and you won’t miss their beautiful plumage or enticing melodies. 

American Robin

American Robin Perched
Image by Gavin Edmondstone via Flickr.

Although often seen as spring birds, American robins are considered a residential species and stay in their breeding range year-round. However, they are still a sign of spring because many robins fly to southern states during the winter, and the robins that stay around aren’t as active in lawns or gardens. Rather; they stick to the tree canopy or dense shrubs, relatively out of sight. 

In this way, flocks of robins hopping around on the ground looking for worms and insects are a joyous sign of spring. Plus, around mid-February to early March, they’ll start perching at the tops of trees and sing rich caroling notes in the morning and evening. These delightful melodies will last through the warm season into early Autumn. 

Red-Winged Blackbird 

A Perched Red-winged Blackbird
Image by Frank via Flickr.

Red-winged blackbirds are a year-round resident in the South and parts of the West. However, red-winged blackbirds are one of the first spring birds to arrive in the Midwest and Northern United States. In the Great Lakes region and Northeast, they arrive mid-February to early March. 

Red-winged blackbirds’ preferred nesting habitat is wetland areas where cattails are abundant. They will visit bird feeders if it’s near their nesting habitat. Because they often fly in flocks together, common grackles will also arrive around the same time as red-winged blackbirds. 

Purple Martin 

A Pair of Purple Martins
Image by Bonnie Ott via Flickr.

If you’re lucky, purple martins may visit your garden bird feeder as they migrate from South America to their northern breeding ground. These early spring birds arrive in the southern United States as soon as mid-January and can reach New England around mid-April. 

Purple Martins predominantly breed in the Midwest to the East Coast where they almost exclusively nest in specialty purple martin birdhouses. They are rare in the west where they prefer old woodpecker cavity nests.

As the largest North American swallow, purple martins are beautiful and unique birds to attract to your garden. Their numbers are in decline, which makes it even more critical for birders in the east to provide nest boxes for this species. 

Tree Swallow

A Tree Swallow Calls
Image by Insu Nuzzi via Flickr.

Tree swallows are early migratory birds, arriving in the southern United States in late January to early February. They steadily make their way north and can reach the northernmost parts of the U.S. by March or April.

Tree swallows are one of the easiest birds to attract to a nestbox. Because of this, you can invite them to your garden by setting up a cavity nest box.

House Wren 

House Wren Singing
Image by Larry Cusick via Flickr.

The house wren is a delightful springtime visitor to gardens across the United States. House wrens winter in the southern states and migrate to northern breeding grounds which span across much of the United States. They arrive from late March to early May. 

These little birds love brush piles and dense foliage. If you have shrubs in your garden, they may stop by for a visit. If you wish to attract a breeding pair to live in your garden for the season, consider setting up a nest box. 

Indigo Bunting 

Indigo Bunting in Spring Blossom
Image by Matthew Studebaker via Flickr.

The Indigo bunting is a wonder to behold. In the spring, you can attract these beautiful dark blue birds to backyard bird feeders as they migrate to breeding grounds. 

Wintering in Central America, Indigo Buntings migrate to the United States and southern Canada to breed. They arrive in the southern states around the end of April and in the northern states from late May to early June. 

Indigo buntings are common from the Midwest to the East Coast and are much less common in the West. 

Orioles 

Baltimore Oriole Perching
Image by John Munt via Flickr.

Orioles are brightly-colored birds whose arrival marks the height of Spring. The Baltimore oriole is the easiest backyard species to spot compared to the other, more conspicuous orioles (such as the Orchard Oriole). This striking bird arrives in the Eastern and Central United States from early April to late May. 

The western counterpart to the Baltimore oriole is the Bullock’s Oriole. This oriole is common in cottonwood tree stands throughout the west during the breeding season. 

Leave fresh orange halves or grape jelly out and you’ll likely attract these common orioles to your garden. You can even purchase oriole bird feeders that provide sweet nectar water. 

Grosbeaks 

Grosbeak on a Bird Feeder
Image by Eva Orleans via Flickr.

As strikingly beautiful birds with equally impressive songs, grosbeaks signal that spring is here to stay. While there are a few species across North America, the spring species to pay attention to are the Rose-breasted Grosbeak, the Blue Grosbeak, and the Black-headed grosbeak. 

Rose-breasted grosbeaks are a treasure to the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes region, and New England. They frequent bird feeders and will stick around your garden if there are plenty of trees nearby. They arrive at their breeding grounds in the north early to mid-May. 

The blue grosbeak shares a similar range to the Rose-breasted grosbeak but tends to breed farther south. 

In the west, keep a lookout for the black-headed grosbeak. If you have a bird feeder, this beautiful orange and black bird will stick around and gift you with a lovely song day after day. 

Warblers

A Yellow Warbler Perched
Image by ksblack99 via Flickr.

We can’t talk about spring birds without mentioning the many warblers that migrate across North America. These cheerful little birds love to visit gardens and dense shrubs. However, you might miss them if you don’t keep a lookout! Warblers move quickly through areas, but if you have a variety of native plants and shrubs, they’ll likely come again. 

Some of the more common spring warblers to see in your garden include the yellow warbler, Wilson’s warbler, common yellowthroat, American redstart, and the Magnolia warbler. 

Additional Birds to Look Out For This Spring

Spring is a joyous time for birders across the U.S. as thousands of birds migrate to breeding grounds. In addition to the birds listed above, keep an eye out for hummingbirds, thrushes, kinglets, and sparrows. These birds will likely stop by if you have a garden with native plants and shrubs, a stocked birdfeeder, and a bird bath. 

Which Spring Birds Have You Seen in Your Garden? 

How many spring birds on this list have you spotted in your garden? Are there any birds that frequent your feeder you didn’t see on this list? Because of all the different species migrating across North America in the spring, you’ll likely have some visitors not mentioned here. Let us know in the comments below; we’d love to hear from you!  

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