Birding is actually the new term for what used to be called Bird Watching. Avian enthusiasts are starting to head out now that some great weather is finally here, and Cal Cuthbert's one of them. Cuthbert lives close to Delta Beach and was out and about this past week taking advantage of the warmer weather while many species have returned to the area.

He notes it was perfect weather to take out his binoculars and see what species are here already.

"This time of year, it's a lot of stuff," says Cuthbert. "Spring migrants are coming back from point south, and it's one of my favourite times of the year. The snow is going, or theoretically, it should be going this time of year. The weather is getting warm, and the birds migrate accordingly. We had a lot of species start showing up in a relatively short period of time."

Cuthbert explains he and his friend Bill Rideout took in Thursday of this past week as they drove and passed some time, having spotted at least 80 species. 

"We were as far as the Portage Creek area over to close to High Bluff, then working our way back to Delta here," continues Cuthbert. "We got a pretty good cumulative checklist going on. It's all interesting. After several months of not seeing too much, you're bound to see stuff. We saw maybe eight or nine species of Sparrows which are one of our earlier songbird migrants. We have Warblers starting to show now, as well. We got Yellow Rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers -- they're some of the earlier arriving species of Warblers."

Cal CuthbertCal Cuthbert

He notes the main influx of songbirds won't be arriving until a couple more weeks.  

"Traditionally in southern Manitoba, you get the Victoria Day weekend -- the long weekend -- that is primo time for maximum number of bird species passing through the area," adds Cuthbert. "Now, of course, a number of them will remain to nest and breed, but that's a good time of year to get both the resident birds (the birds that will be nesting here), and the migrants passing to the points further north."

Cuthbert says birds are arriving a little later this year.

"Having three Colorado Lows in as many weekends in April, plus our below-normal temperatures, it seems to be a delaying process for sure, for some species -- absolutely," adds Cuthbert. "Canada Geese are more or less regular when they come back, and Crows and Merlins, Horn Larks -- some of the early-early species that come back in late winter/early spring. But for a lot of the others, it's kind of slow. But like I say, today -- it's the 4th of May -- it's starting to pick up and it'll pick up tempo as the weeks go on."  

He adds it's too early to tell this year if any particular species is decreasing or increasing. 

"I think in the big picture, I can safely say many species are not in the numbers that they were 20-40 years ago," says Cuthbert. "A lot of North American songbirds are having issues."