One of the tell-tale signs of spring's approach is the reappearance of numerous bird species that have returned from their winter homes. Perhaps you have noticed an increase in bird song filling the air, or you've seen large groups of birds congregating in trees, on lawns, and near feeders. Some species are arriving after months away, and some are preparing for a northward journey to their summer nesting spots. Whatever their direction, most birds are now preparing for the process of finding mates and building nests where they will raise their young.
Birds migrate primarily to find food sources when summer climates turn cold and insects and plants go into dormancy. Many North American migrants head to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central and South America. However, some birds, such as the Dark-eyed Junco and the Common Redpoll, who breed in Canada, overwinter in North America. Not all birds travel during the winter months. Some stay in one geographic area all year. Examples of non-migrating permanent residents are Blue Jays, American Crows, Black-capped Chickadees, and Northern Cardinals. A few birds whose sightings are commonly considered to be hallmarks of spring are actually both winter residents and migrants depending on habitat range and breeding age. The Eastern Bluebird and the American Robin may still be seen in the deep of winter as not all members of these species migrate to warmer climates.
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