Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Signs of Spring (09)

(I hope that my ski-bum friends will overlook this post.)

Today I saw and heard three avian evidences that spring is just around the corner.

Red-tailed Hawks (Buteo jamaicensis) are carrying sticks to refurbish old nests or begin new ones (which of these it is likely depends upon whether one of the pair is new to the territory) and roosting for the night in their nest trees.

I heard a male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) calling from an elevated perch. This species has spent the winter in complete obscurity and anonymity, remaining on the ground, silent and out of sight. Today, at least one has decided that it's time to find a high perch and both visually and vocally set up shop and start courtin'.

Similarly, the Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris, one of our area's earliest nesters) were today singing and chasing one another as though last week's snowdrifts are a distant memory and it's time to get down to it.

Oh, there're still plenty of wintering birds around, and I look forward to seeing Northern Shrikes and Rough-legged Hawks for several weeks to come. But today's sights and sounds are a reminder that days are getting longer and this wonderful ball on which we live is steadily making its way along its orbit.

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