The spring migration season for songbirds is surprisingly long and kicks off as early as March, a time when there are still bare trees and patches of snow in many parts of the country. For anyone who loves birds, spring is a prime time for getting out and observing their behavior. If you want to catch some birds in action — and be a helper to them — use this checklist to guide you.

Set out nesting boxes

Because the birds are coming back, that means they'll be nesting soon. Developed areas, with their lack of dying or dead trees, have a shortage of suitable nesting sites for cavity nesters like woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees and bluebirds. So this spring, install a nesting box somewhere in your yard — the earlier, the better — and see what happens!

But skip the nesting material

Setting out yarn and human hair (or even pet hair) can do more harm than good for the birds, which is why most bird experts urge people to skip it. Instead, when you perform spring cleanup, leave out a small brush pile. Winter-killed foliage and grasses make excellent natural nesting sources for birds.

Get online!

There are lots of online resources available that you can use to learn about birds! Try any of these to learn more about your backyard birds at home:

Ebird: This online resource collects data submitted by birders around the country. During spring and autumn migration season, this can give you a solid idea on when and where you can view arrivals and departures of specific species.

BirdCast: This “breaking news” resource from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology uses data from radar, weather reports and citizen sightings to bring forecasts of when and where migrating birds are coming to a field, body of water or park near you.

Twitter: This social media platform can be a rich resource for real-time migration news for birders. Play around with the advanced search feature, using dates, key words and geography to limit your results. This can help you find active accounts from local birding organizations and serious birders that are worth a follow.

Three essential bird accounts to follow:

Listen for the spring playlist

In the spring, the male birds in search of a mate break out the melodies. Their signature song sends important messages about their availability and stamina to take on the physical demands of raising a brood of chicks. If you hear a bird singing in earnest, break out the binoculars and try to locate him. Can you identify the bird? If other birds are nearby, it can be interesting to watch the politics of bird romance play out, particularly if he’s trying to outmaneuver a rival.

Keep those feeders filled!

As birds wing their way back north or start the physically demanding task of nesting and raising a brood of chicks, a bird feeder will turn your yard into an oasis! Lyric Fruit and Nut Mix is packed with high-quality seeds, fruit and nuts to give colorful songbirds the energy they need this spring.