Birds have started chirping, indicating migration season is underway in Northwest Missouri.
“This is really an exciting time of the year as things are just beginning to pick up,” said Julie Jedlicka, an assistant biology professor at Missouri Western State University. “Some birds are even starting their famous courtships.”
Many birds are beginning to take cues from the environment on whether it is time to start mating or to fly back north.
“Day length, temperature and wind are all conditions that indicate it’s time to start traveling back from the south,” Jedlicka said.
A moderate, sustained tailwind under 20 mph will help birds stay in flight for days and even weeks at a time.
“In spring, a stronger south wind returns making the flight less strenuous and more energetically favorable,” Jedlicka said. “Birdcast.info is a great website that will allow you to track the current migration paths across the United States.
“Ebird.org is a huge citizen project where people like us put down their bird lists that they have seen in different areas,” Jedlicka said. “It’s a great source for St. Joe residents know what to expect to see in their backyards.”
Missouri is home to more than 400 species of birds. Some more commonly found backyard birds include sparrows, swallows, phoebes and hummingbirds.
“We are starting to get some warblers that will be passing through in large numbers that are really colorful and sing from the tops of trees and bluebirds,” Jedlicka said. “Missouri alone has 62 different bird nest boxes.”
Black-Capped chickadees and cardinals can be found looking for nesting sites in dense trees about 15 feet high. Flycatchers, shorebirds and ducks are some of birdwatchers’ favorites that have returned to the area.
“Loess Bluffs Eagles are already unmasked and owls are hatched,” Jedlicka said. “Those larger birds start nesting a lot earlier because their young need to gain enough weight to fledge by the end of summer.”
All someone needs are two simple ingredients to create a perfect bird feed this spring.
“My biggest advice is to not get a bird mix seed that has a lot of millet white grains in it,” Jedlicka said. “The two main feeders I recommend are sunflower seeds and peanuts.”
Peanuts should be shelled and will draw in woodpeckers and chickadees.
“Hummingbirds and orioles will take interest in our warmer months,” Jedlicka said. “In the meantime, you may want to dust off your feeders if they haven’t received much attention over the winter.”
This will decrease the chance of diseases being carried from one bird to another.
“Sewage cases and hot peppers are really good for keeping away raccoons or squirrels and birds will still be strongly attracted to the feeder,” Jedlicka said. “Birdwatching is a great activity for increasing happiness and to connect with nature.”