Head to these properties (or your own favorites) for a first look at a season-long wave of winged travelers:
Bartholomew’s Cobble, Sheffield
Where the lovely Housatonic River flows lazily along the east side of the property, look for a bald eagle in a pine tree or wafting overhead, while Pintail and Wood duck test the waters. Listen for the whistle of red-winged blackbirds and for the eye-pleasing sight of bluebirds in a field. At dusk in open areas, woodcocks are already engaged in their spiraling ballet.
Peaked Mountain, Monson
At more than 1,200 feet, Peaked is one of the state’s highest points bordering Connecticut and thus attractive to a variety of soaring birds, including hawks and turkey vultures. Look for kestrels and merlins as they make their way northward. From the summit, turn your gaze east to see a beaver pond where great blue herons will be nesting.
North Common Meadow, Petersham
Introduce the next generation to birders to this appealing blend of field and pond habitat situated close to the village green. Tree swallows dip and dive as they pluck insects from the air while bluebirds drop from branches into deepening grasses. Kestrels hover overhead on fiercely flapping wings.
World’s End, Hingham
From the restored salt pond near the entrance to the grassy hillsides overlooking Boston Harbor, early migrants are already making homes at this popular South Shore peninsula. Mallards patrol the salt pond and ice pond, while bluebirds and red-winged blackbirds settle in along the maple-lined allees. Also keep an eye out for cedar waxwings and kestrels.
Crane Beach, Ipswich
Wander along this scenic, four-mile barrier beach and welcome returning ducks, loons, and shorebirds. Look for dunlins to be skittering along the surf line and across tidal flats. Endangered piping plovers are also returning, so take extra care to avoid them.
Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge, Chappaquiddick
Osprey return early to their salt marsh nest poles in this pristine area of Martha’s Vineyard. Poucha Pond draws great blue herons as well as black-crowned night herons and egrets that feed on small fish and crabs lurking in the tidal waters. On the shorefront, beachcombers find they’re once again sharing spaces with sandpipers.