Field Notes: Sounds of Spring

April 10, 2020 9:15 am

by Ellen Powell, conservation educator

The flush of green suffusing our woodlands isn’t the only signal that spring is here.

If a daily dawn chorus wakes you this month, it likely includes our state bird, the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis). This species is a bit unusual, in that both males and females sing, providing a familiar soundtrack in woodland edges and thickets statewide.

Learn more about cardinals and listen to their songs.

Ivy Creek view 1

Ivy Creek.

One of the first warblers to return to central Virginia woodlands is the Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla). Listen for it’s clear-noted song and watch for it foraging along the edges of woodland streams like the one pictured on the right.

See and learn more about the Louisiana waterthrush here.

Birds aren’t the only singers in the spring woods. Frogs and toads gather in shallow wetlands and ponds to mate. The more males in a breeding chorus, the more likely they are to be heard by potential mates. Late March is an excellent time to hear a chorus of American toads (Anaxyrus americanus), especially on cloudy days.

Listen to ethereal trills of the American toad.



Credit, Photo of Northern Cardinal: Jessica Bolser/USFWS

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