Q. What is our true harbinger of spring?
A. Here in upstate New York, we say that the return of the Red-winged Blackbird is the true sign that spring is really on its way.
Blackbirds leave our area each fall but they don't necessarily go too far (they can be seen in winter in southern parts of the state). They can start their northward spring movement in February. In my yard, I can expect to see them as early as the second week in March. Early spring is the most likely time of year for me to see Red-winged Blackbirds at my birdfeeders.
American Robins are not the harbinger of spring that perhaps they used to be. Robins are now seen year-round in our area of upstate New York, feeding on the remaining berries and fruits on trees and shrubs. Watch for robins in winter at your heated bird bath as well!