By Jessica Tuggle
MARTIN COUNTY -- One definite sign of springtime hitting its full stride is the music that fills the air, melodies sung by tiny, feathered soloists.
Birds, both migratory and native species, can be seen feeding, building nests or just passing through the Treasure Coast during the spring months and some of them even whistle while they work.
This time of year, one of the most vibrantly colored species of bird is making sure he gets noticed. The red male northern cardinal will sit on a perch and sing to attract a female during breeding season.
Blue jays, northern mockingbirds and red-bellied woodpeckers also make themselves noticed during the spring, whether it's swooping down to take a peek at an area, or knocking on every tree searching for lunch.
Depending on the habitats surrounding a home, the types of birds that might pay a visit will be varied, from wading birds to songbirds, but there are some things that can be done to make a backyard bird-friendly, making observation of the winged visitors easier and more varied.
Fresh and clean birdbaths are attractive to birds, both migratory and native. The water provides them with something to drink and allows them to get rid of dirt in their feathers.
A bird bath must be kept clean and fresh water should be added regularly. Doing so keeps down the chances of spreading disease by reducing the concentration of waste and bacteria in an area shared by many birds.
Many bird observers like to travel and explore more than their backyards to catch a glimpse of the feathered fliers and the leggy waders and the paddlers.
Fran Stewart, president of Audubon of Martin County and part-time Florida resident, takes her bird-watching hobby wherever she goes.
"I am a birder and enjoy the challenge of identifying birds not only in Florida, but in other parts of the world," Ms. Stewart said in an email interview.
"I soon realized after starting to bird that birds are indicators of the health of our environment around the world. That is why I joined Audubon, to help protect the habitat required not only by migratory birds, but by our unique resident Florida birds," Ms. Stewart said.
During February, bird-watchers around the country participated in The Great Backyard Bird Count, where for one weekend, they kept a log of all the species spotted in their yards.
In Martin County, some of the types of birds spotted included the typical American white pelican, the native brown pelican, black vulture, turkey vulture and mourning doves, but some people reported seeing birds like the American goldfinch, black-and-white warblers, purple martins and a gray catbird.
In all, 95 species were recorded in one weekend in Martin County by volunteer participants.
The Audubon of Martin County has many resources available to aspiring birders, or even curious residents who want to know what creature is making a racket near their home.
Some great birding locations are listed on the Audubon of Martin County's website, including Jonathan Dickinson State Park, which is home to bald eagles, woodpeckers, scrub jay, ospreys and more.
For more information about the Audubon of Martin County, visit www.audubonmartincounty.org.
For the National Audubon Society information, visit www.audubon.org.