On the Spring Equinox – A Louisiana Waterthrush Returns

On the first day of spring the ringing song of a Louisiana Waterthrush rose from down in the woods, along one of the creeks in our neighborhood. Its clear, shining song always seems to me like an anthem, a flourish of notes announcing that spring is near – though usually it comes closer to the middle of March, a week or two before the Equinox. This year I had not heard its song until today.

Two other songbirds that have usually returned before now, and that I think of as heralds of spring – Black-and-white Warbler and Blue-headed Vireo – I haven’t yet heard or seen. Maybe soon.

When I first stepped out the front door – into a cool, crisp, beautiful spring morning – the first bird I saw was one of our winter residents – a gorgeous Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. It flew into a water oak right in front of me and paused in profile on the trunk, gleaming with a crimson throat and crown and a flush of yellow on the belly, dramatic black and white stripes on the face, and a wide white stripe down each dark wing.

Though few spring migrants have shown up yet, more and more birds seem to be singing each day – Pine Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Eastern Towhee, Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, Carolina Wren, and Brown Thrasher. Red-bellied Woodpeckers call their soft, musical quuurrr, Downy Woodpeckers whinny, and the juvenile Red-headed Woodpecker was in its usual area today, giving its rolling, churry call. It looks very bright and boldly colored now, with red head, black back and wings, white belly and broad white wing panels – only a few traces of its juvenile plumage still are showing.

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