Confused Birds? April Snow Brings Migratory Surprises
Although it’s early April, spring is just a rumor. The northwest suburbs are in a winter wonderland. However, when nature throws a snowy sucker punch, birds find a way to get through it.
“Birds are really built for this,” said Jan Welsh of the Minnesota DNR. ” They have a great layer of down. It’s like having a down coat on all the time.”
“It’s pretty warm,” said Ashley Smith of the Three Rivers Park District. “They don’t need a lot of extra energy to keep themselves warm like they did in the middle of winter.”
Yes, most birds adapt, survive, and some even thrive in the elements. They can often sense extreme weather changes.
“When the air pressure starts to drop and storms are coming in they will start to eat more,” Welsh said. “So anticipate that, keep your feeders filled and help them out that way.”
Already in Spring Mode
Despite the snowy conditions, many birds are already in spring mode.
“The sand hill cranes are still out calling in the fields,” Welsh said. “To them it’s spring, it’s breeding season. The woodcocks are still going to be doing their aerial dancing.”
“We got a call yesterday from somebody who said there’s a mallard hen whose sitting on her eggs,” said Phil Jenni from the Wildlife Rehab Center in Roseville.
Because a lot of Minnesota’s lakes are still frozen, birds such as ducks, geese and blue heron are looking for open water. When they see it, they flock to it.
The Wildlife Rehab Center is currently treating a double-crested cormorant that crashed into an icy lake looking for food.
“Dropped down on a hard surface and broke his jaw so he is one of our patients here now,” Jenni said. “Certainly weather related.”
As for migratory birds coming up the Mississippi River flyway, some are staying south until things warm up.
“There might be a lot of migratory birds in Iowa for instance,” Jenni said. “As soon as they’re able, they’ll come up and be here.”
Based on the amount of snow in the Twin Cities, that trip north is at least a few days away.