Spring is a time every bird watcher looks forward to because more colorful species of songbirds can be spotted than any other time of the year.

For a short period -- a few weeks, perhaps a month -- vibrant songbirds gather. Some are migrating northward, others are busy staking out nesting territories. The males are singing and flashing their effervescent breeding plumages, all the better to impress females and warn other males to stay away. Trees and shrubs are in bloom, adding color to the landscape.

And it's all about to happen in the coming days and weeks.

Already a few species have arrived in central Minnesota. Robins, red-winged blackbirds, eastern bluebirds, among others.

Not far behind will be several species of warblers (yellow-rumped warblers are usually first), Baltimore orioles and rose-breasted Grosbeaks. As May progresses, each day it seems brings new, multihued bird species into the area.

By far the best time to view springtime songbirds occurs on cool, calm, sunny mornings just after the passage of a cold front. When nighttime temperatures drop - -usually with a north wind -- come sunrise, insects are often low to the ground where the air warms first. Sometimes, if a person is lucky, he or she can witness the lower branches of trees “dripping” with brilliant birds as they gather to hunt insects. A day later, or even hours later, the insects and the birds might be gone.

So fill those backyard feeders with bird seed, suet, grape jelly and sugar water, because the birds are on their way. Dust off the binoculars and grab your bird ID booklet.

Now, during these stressful times, set aside part of your day to, at the very least, watch birds out your windows. Or head outdoors according to the rules. Spring comes only once a year.

BILL MARCHEL is a wildlife and outdoors photographer and writer whose work appears in many regional and national publications as well as the Brainerd Dispatch. He may be reached at bill@billmarchel.com. You also can visit his website at BillMARCHEL.com.