Friday, April 03, 2009

Hurrying the Seasons

Weak spring sunlight casting shadows of leafless trees on new meadow grass.

It's been spring, officially, for two weeks, but it's not really spring for us bird watchers until the good spring migrants start showing up. Don't get me wrong. I LOVE the hardy early arrivers: pine warblers, tree swallows, chipping sparrows, brown thrashers. But it seems so much more wonderful when the wood thrushes, chestnut-sided warblers, great crested flycatchers, and Baltimore orioles show up.

So I guess I am trying my level best to hurry the seasons along. Despite the advice of all the New Age gurus that we must "live in the moment and not "wish our lives away." When it comes to anticipating the special birds of spring, I'm totally ready to forget today if tomorrow brings a dawn chorus of new arrivals.

Some other spring signs:

Blooming fruit trees.

Bluebirds getting house proud.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow, the Wind and Rain

The snow has changed to rain. Bleech!

We are being assaulted by high winds and blasting sheets of rain. The rain is changing back and forth from liquid form to its slightly more solid forms of snow or sleet. This weather is just an inconvenience for most of us, but it always makes me worry about the birds and animals that have few options for getting out of such nasty weather.
Male eastern bluebird giving me the "More suet-dough please!" look.

Our bluebirds are keyed in to the suet dough once again. Perhaps its due to the cold and wet, or maybe they've already eaten all the large, obvious grasshoppers from the meadow. It's clear that the grapes and sumac fruits are rapidly disappearing—mostly down the throats of cedar waxwings, American robins, and European starlings. In any case we're keeping the feeders fully stocked with peanuts, sunflower seed, regular suet, and suet dough.

Having the bluebirds around the house reminds me it's time to winterize the nest boxes—many of which are used nightly by the bluebirds and by downy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, and Carolina wrens. I'll get the roll of Mortite and warm it up in my pocket as I walk the bluebird trails. A four-inch strip will plug the vent holes at the top of the box keeping wet and cold weather outside and more bird body heat inside the boxes. I like thinking of a pair of bluebirds finding a cozy nighttime roost in a nest box with dry grass on the inside floor and weather-stripped vent holes.

Female eastern bluebird.

This got me thinking about my own ability to escape the winter weather. If I had the means, I'd certainly spend much of the winter in the tropics. Not Florida or Arizona. I mean the serious tropics, where the common blue bird you see is a blue-gray tanager.

Blue-gray tanager.

It's a nice fantasy. Must find that buried treasure first. And buy lottery tickets.

In the meantime I think I'll winterize the nest boxes here....


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