One of the great joys of spring is the return of migrant bird species from their wintering grounds, many attired in their breeding finery and singing their hearts out. They flock in great hordes to our feeders, which we have to bring in at night to keep them safe from voracious, marauding bears. The finches, like this purple one, love thistle seed.
The American goldfinch can be seen in these parts in winter, but its plumage is a drab olive. Once mating season begins, this perky bird turns the brilliant yellow from which it derives its name.
The sound of woodpeckers drumming in early spring generally means alarm clocks are no longer needed. The sound is territorial proclamation and also a courtship ritual. Our local assortment includes red-bellied (seen above, with the bright red head and just a few pale red belly feathers); hairy; downy; pileated; and yellow-bellied sapsuckers.
The cedar waxwing, with its distinctive black mask and gold-tipped tail, returns from its wintering grounds down south or in Central and South America and can often be seen along the Delaware River, swooping down for insects. Its diet also includes fruit, berries and cedar cones.