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Signs of spring slowly returning

Migration patterns picking up birds making their way north

We may not be thinking about it yet, especially after the recent wintry commute, but the signs of spring are slowly starting to arrive.

Even the weather equipment is starting to pick up on this shifting of the season. The radar in Key West, Florida had a strange pattern on it early Monday morning. No, it wasn't rain. It was birds, migrating north from their winter habitats in the Caribbean and South America. The radar beam on the Floridian archipelago catching a brief segment of their lengthy journey. 

Here in the Twin Cities, we're already hearing the chirps of a few birds taking advantage of the milder winter. Spring is only a month away and the birds who summer here, including the loon, are already beginning their journey back.

And there are things you can do to help them out on their travels that could also put you in the spring spirit. 

Luis Ramirez, Director of Conservation at Audubon Minnesota, says that just like us humans, migratory birds on long journeys need to take a break at times.

"The analogy I always like to use is to say that we are having a long trip to Chicago. We will stop here and there to refuel on the trip. Birds will need the same thing. They are coming all the way from South America or the Gulf of Mexico/Florida. They need places to stop. So we can actually help a lot."

And that's especially true of the birds that migrate this way first, usually in early March. Our home is just another layover for them as they make their way back to Northern Canada and the Arctic. Once April arrives, so too will the birds that summer here. 

So while you may not be thinking about it yet, dust off those bird feeders and consider planting indigenous grasses and vegetation once the spring season does arrive.