Feb 17, 2021 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, February 2021

Listen for Early Birds

The northern cardinal leads the pack of early singers. If you live within its range, listen for the cardinal’s cheer cheer cheer and birdy birdy birdy birdy songs, which are associated with pair formation and bonding, and territory establishment.
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Across much of the United States, some birds always seem to rush nesting season; they can be heard singing even as February snow flies.

The northern cardinal leads the pack of early singers, closely followed by the tufted titmouse and chickadees.

If you live within its range, listen for the cardinal’s cheer cheer cheer and birdy birdy birdy birdy songs, which are associated with pair formation and bonding, and territory establishment. Note, too, that both male and female cardinals sing.

Carolina chickadee by B. Wunderlich.

Chickadees, too, start their courtship songs in time for Valentine's Day. You might hear their chickadee-dee-dee vocalizations throughout the year, but their fee-bee or fee-bee fee-bay songs are associated with pair bonding.

Another species that sings early is the mourning dove. Actually, mourning doves have been observed nesting and laying eggs in every month of the year. Julie Zickefoose once reported seeing a female mourning dove gathering straw to line her nest during a January snowstorm in Connecticut!

Mourning dove, photo by pixabay.com.

Mockingbirds, too, start singing in February, and some don’t stop their spring song until well into August!

House finches sing throughout the year, but in February they begin singing more vigorously.

Northern nesters that winter in the Lower 48, and those birds that breed at high elevations but spend the coldest months at lower elevations, such as white-throated, white-crowned, and fox sparrows, can be heard singing in winter, and more so as daylight hours lengthen, and as the visitors head back to their breeding range.

If you need a winter pick-me-up, take a walk in nature, and be sure to listen for cold-weather songsters.



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