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Watch For Spring Arrivals

Some observers are already sighting horned larks along the shoulders of gravel roads in rural Manitoba.

It’s time to start watching the skies and treetops for the early-spring arrivals, as birds return to Manitoba from their winter ranges.

Long before our marshlands are free of ice and snow, the early migrants cross the U. S. border. Goose sightings are generally first reported in Delta Marsh or Whitewater Lake area; however, people living in the Windygates to Snowflake region along the U. S. border likely see them even earlier. This is also a good place for observing the first hawks as they return to Manitoba.

If you live in the Snowflake to Windygates area please e-mail me when you see your first goose or hawk of the season at [email protected]

Some observers are already sighting horned larks along the shoulders of gravel roads in rural Manitoba. Although some of these birds are reported to winter in southern Manitoba, we generally notice them most as they move to their nesting grounds. “The horned lark may be a year-round resident,” according to the Manitoba Museum website. This small songbird has a pale-brown back, black chest and face patch, and distinctive small “horns” on top of its head. It is six to eight inches in size with a wingspan of about 12 inches.

Another interesting bird to watch for is the mountain bluebird with its distinctive blue colour. According to “Hinterlands Who’s Who,” they typically begin to move north in March, but often arrive in northern latitudes when snow still blankets much of the ground and temperatures still dip below -20C. These hardy birds can usually withstand short spells of cold and stormy weather; however, during prolonged severe conditions they may freeze or starve to death.

As the birds move back, we’re encouraged that spring really will be returning also!

– Bill Stilwell writes from Neepawa, Manitoba

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