Friday, March 9, 2012

And Robins are back!!

American Robin, Turdus migratorius
Lynn's photo

What's not to be happy about? A big wave of migrating birds has come in with the recent south winds and warm weather. On campus we've seen lots and lots of robins these past two weeks. Elsewhere in the state, folks on the coast are monitoring the plankton blooms to get ready for the gulls which follow. Large blackbird flocks are noticeable even to the casual observer driving along the interstates. One late afternoon I watched many small skeins of Canada Geese moving northward.

Yesterday evening at home I heard two American Woodcock calling - "peenting" as birders hear it, followed shortly by the whistling sound made as the bird spirals back to the earth. These sounds are part of their early spring mating display. The males will call from a small patch of open ground then take off skyward, flying so high they're almost lost to our sight. Then they perform a sort of spiralling freefall back to their patch of turf, air rushing past specially modified wing feathers to make the whistling sound that we hear.

Watch for Red-tailed Hawks performing their dramatic aerial duets. Watch for the first moth, the first butterfly on the first dandelion, the first salamander crossing the road on a warm rainy night.

The return of spring still thrills this Homo sapiens, who lives in a world where so many people seem to shut out the natural world.
No way, I say hooray for spring - let's all go out and get MUDDY!!

West Campus bird list for the two week period from February 27th through today, March 9th, 2012:

Wild Turkey
Canada Goose
Ring-billed Gull
Herring Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Red-tailed Hawk
Mourning Dove
Rock Pigeon
10. Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
American Crow
Fish Crow
American Robin
Northern Mockingbird
Black-capped Chickadee
Carolina Wren
European Starling
20. Northern Cardinal
White-throated Sparrow
Song Sparrow
American Goldfinch
House Finch
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
27. House Sparrow

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