HARLINGEN, Texas (ValleyCentral) — It is never too early to savor with mounting anticipation the spectacular spring migration of colorful songbirds like the scarlet tanager thru deep South Texas. It won’t be that long before millions of Neotropical migrants pass thru the Rio Grande Valley on their annual northward migration.

Birds like the Hooded warbler are referred to as Neotropical because they spend the summer in breeding ranges in North America but migrate to Mexico, Central, and South America to spend the winter.

The peak for songbird passage is usually around April 20th, but there will be plenty of activity before that date.

Southernmost coastal Texas is the most important migratory corridor in North America with literally hundreds of millions of birds funneling thru the area in the spring and fall.

The spring migration is more direct, and many birds will fly straight across the Gulf of Mexico in a rush to establish prime breeding territories ahead of their feathered competition.

Since the urgency of spring migration is keyed to nesting success, many males of the species like the Ruby-throated hummingbird will migrate ahead of the females to acquire and defend their nesting territory that may be some 2,000 miles from their wintering grounds.

The spring passage of colorful songbirds thru the RGV is often of short duration, as the birds are only pausing to rest and refuel before winging it northward.

We can all help them along by keeping our backyard feeders clean and filled and putting out a few oranges for them to savor, as you just never know who might drop by for a snack.