Early Warblers and Spring Ephemerals: What to Expect in April

Louisiana waterthrush (photo by Steve Gosser)

4 April 2022

Spring was on hold during last week’s long hard frost but it’s coming back this week. Here’s what to expect outdoors in the Pittsburgh area.

The earliest warblers arrive in April before the leaves open.  Last weekend a Louisiana waterthrush returned to Tom’s Run Nature Reserve in Sewickley PA. Look for them walking along clean streams, bobbing their tails, and singing their very loud song.

Purple martin scouts are back at Harrison Hills County Park and Murrysville Wetland Community Park and tree swallows have returned to Moraine State Park. Watch for northern rough-winged swallows, barn swallows, and the rest of the purple martins in the weeks ahead.

Tree swallow (photo by Jessica Botzan)
Tree swallow (photo by Jessica Botzan)

Yellow-throated warblers will return to Pittsburgh area creeks and streams on or before 20 April. You’ll hear them before you see them, walking the high trunks and larger branches of sycamores. 

Yellow-throated warbler (photo by Anthiny Bruno)
Yellow-throated warbler (photo by Anthony Bruno)

Watch for gray catbirds, blue-gray gnatcatchers, and ruby-crowned kinglets returning soon.

Meanwhile, don’t miss April’s ephemeral wildflowers.

Snow trillium (Trillium nivale) was out in full force yesterday at the Botanical Society of Western PA walk at Little Sewickley Creek in Westmoreland County.

Snow trillium, Little Sewickley Creek, Westmoreland County, 3 April 2022 (photo by Kate St. John)

Soon we’ll see spring beauty, spicebush, hepatica, harbinger-of-spring, bloodroot, spring cress, twinleaf, violets and more. 

Spicebush in bloom, Schenley Park 2013 (photo by Kate St. John)
Spicebush in Schenley Park, 13 April 2013 (photo by Kate St. John)
Bloodroot blooming at Cedar Creek Park, Westmoreland County, 19 April 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)
Bloodroot at Cedar Creek Park, Westmoreland County, 19 April 2014 (photo by Kate St. John)

For more details check out my Pennsylvania Phenology page.

It’s a good month to be outdoors.

(photo credits: bird photos by Steve Gosser, Anthony Bruno and Jessica Botzan.  Plant photos by Kate St. John)

3 thoughts on “Early Warblers and Spring Ephemerals: What to Expect in April

  1. Thank you so much, Kate, for pointing me to your Pittsburgh Phenology Page!

    Still learning after all these years. . . .

  2. Do you know if the road to the overlook at Harrison Hills park is open yet after being closed late last Fall? Thanks for such a great comprehensive early Spring Briefing!

    1. I don’t know if it’s open. The purple martins at Harrison Hills are at the purple martin “apartments” at the Environmental Learning Center.

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