Bird song is returning, an early signal of spring at the Pole Farm

At the Mercer Meadows Pole Farm, a few early signs that spring will get here eventually are starting to show. Over my last couple of visits, I’ve started hearing after a long layoff the raspy cries of red-winged blackbirds, and the Eastern bluebirds are calling to one another.

An American tree sparrow forages along one of the trails at the Pole Farm.

This morning, I noticed that a few varieties of sparrows that have kept low to the ground over the last couple of months are again perching on tree branches and on tall stalks of grass in the fields. Savannah sparrows, song sparrows and American tree sparrows are abundant.

I don’t seem to see or hear as many white-throated sparrows as I have in previous winters. That said, while I was walking one of the back trails today, I said half aloud, “There’s nothing out here,” and suddenly a group of white-throats appeared directly in front of me.

Northern harriers are clearly at home at the Pole Farm this winter. As usual, I’ve seen them at the Pole Farm and on the Reed Bryan Farm side of the park. Even better, the “gray ghost” males have not been nearly as elusive as they were in recent years. I saw one again this morning, along with at least three females, including the one shown in the photo topping this post.

Mercer County had announced a planned burn of some of the fields this week, but that hasn’t happened. I know the burns are designed to preserve the meadows, but I worry that the fires will hurt or scare off the birds nesting in the grasses and depending on the voles, mice and other critters that make those fields their home, too.

In any event, even in the dead of winter the Pole Farm offers a variety of birds to discover. I’m happy to spot those whose paths I cross.

Published by Dan

University media executive by day, blogger by night, I am a well-traveled resident of New Jersey

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