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Birds Arrive Weeks Early Due to Mild and Brief Winter March 30, 2012
blue-grey gnatcatcher
The blue-grey gnatcatcher is one of the species that arrived weeks early around Washington, D.C.
The mild winter and early springlike warmth across much of the United States and southern Canada have resulted in the early arrival of many migrating birds.

“It looks like much of the country is getting perhaps a one- to three-week-early arrival for many species,” said Jason Berry with American Bird Conservancy.

He cautioned in a statement that should such warmth become a regular or permanent feature, it would impact many bird species.

“Some would be able to adjust, but unfortunately, many would not,” Berry said.

Birdwatchers taking part in Cornell University’s Great Backyard Bird Count in February revealed that the nearly freeze-free winter was also the most unusual for birds in the count’s 15-year history.

A total of 623 species were observed during the four-day survey, including an influx of snowy owls from the Arctic, early migrating sandhill cranes and belted kingfishers in northern areas that would have normally been frozen over at that time of year.

Photo: Owen Deutsch