Sunday, May 8, 2011

Going to the Birds

My belief:  The reason people live in areas with changing seasons is we like the "surprises" each new season brings.  We are the residents who "oooo" and "awww" each spring over the daffodils and tulips.  Each year it's like the first time we've seen them. 

Every spring I marvel at the beauty and lovely sounds of the birds.  We rush to the window to catch a glimpse of color or stop our yard work to listen to a particularly beautiful song.

We're the group of hardy souls who would be bored if the yard was perfectly the same beautiful all year.  Our life would be a little empty if the same birds inhabited our yards year round.  Call us crazy (and some do) we're the ones who celebrate the first snow. 

Yesterday, as I was weeding, a Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) serenaded me.  Known as having the most beautiful and large array of songs in North America, I feel very fortunate they return to our trees year after year.
Some birds are here all winter and are more easily appreciated as they molt into their summer colors.  The American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) is our best example.  The males have been bright gold for about a month.

Many have commented and my observations are the same:  The American Robins (Turdus Migratorius) are fatter than I've ever seen before and in larger numbers.  Most have now laid their eggs and are busy protecting their nests.

The much maligned sparrows are as busy as always and rank right up there with the Thrush in their array of sweet songs.  We have several different kinds, with different songs and habits.

My least favorite birds, the European Starlings (Sturnus vulgaris), have finally migrated out of our trees.  They always stop for a few weeks in our trees - just long enough for me to get tired of their irritating chatter - and then off to some other poor neighborhood.  Whoever named them vulgaris certainly had observed them up close!

The Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelains phoeniceus) are now taking up residence in the fields and roadsides instead of our woods.

Although residents year round, the Morning Doves (Zenaida macroura) can now be heard cooing their evening sleep song in the trees.  That sound never fails to remind me of my childhood.

The red Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) are still fighting their images in mirrors and windows.  Mothers are no where to be seen and must be nesting while papa is still confused.

Other busy birds (some migrated - some overwintered) in our yard and woods: House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus), Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristalta), Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus), White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis), Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens), and the petite House Wren (Troglodytes Avedon).       
What brought this to mind this morning was the sighting of two male Indigo (blue) Buntings (Passerina cyancea).  These little birds simply glow in the sun.  This color of blue is unusual for nature in our area which makes it all the more thrilling. 

“My favorite weather is bird-chirping weather.”
~Loire Hartwould


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