As ice thaws birds come flocking

March 22, 2019

As the Spokane region thaws, bird-watchers are looking to the skies.

“The birds will start pouring in,” Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge biologist Mike Rule said.

This year, Turnbull’s annual bird migration has been delayed by about three weeks, he said.

But the roughly 18,000-acre refuge is starting to thaw, although the big wetland areas are still frozen over.

Rule said he’s already seen some tundra swans hunting for open water. Bluebirds have also appeared, which is a “good harbinger of spring.”

When things do fully thaw, Rule said the birds appear almost overnight.

He remembers one year in the 1990s that had a late, cold winter. When the ice finally melted, tens of thousands of birds moved through the area.

“It’s amazing when it does finally break, the birds just pour through,” he said.