MONTPELIER — Despite snow and cold temperatures, two species of birds are reassuring Vermonters that spring has arrived.
Red-winged blackbirds and common grackles are among the earliest birds to return to the state in the springtime.
The males of both species arrive in late March or early April to establish territories before the females arrive.
Male red-winged blackbirds have striking black feathers and a red epaulette on their wings, which they use to attract mates and fend off other males.
You may have already heard their “conk-la-ree!” call or seen their flashy wings atop cattails and other wetland vegetation.
Grackles, on the other hand, are easy to spot with their glossy, iridescent bodies.
They often flock with other blackbirds, cowbirds and starlings, and their various squeaks, whistles and croaks can be heard in abundance high up in trees.
In the spring, males will playfully chase females at high speeds.
Both species have already started building their nests, a sign that warmer weather is on the way.
As of today, there is still snow and cold in many parts of Vermont, but the return of these birds is a hopeful sign that spring is just around the corner.