Spring Is Around The Corner

Taking A Clue From Birds

There has been one snow storm after another and the official spring date is still more than a month away.  Our garden is covered a foot deep in snow crusted with ice.  The cold frame we put up last fall has become an igloo at this point. I have no idea what has happened in there since I can’t have access without digging my way in through snow.  I’ve left the honey bees alone.  The only sign that there are live bees in the hives is the fresh dead bees I found on top of the snow around the garden.

Our walkway
Our walkway
A pretty good looking dead bee  on top of snow
A pretty good looking dead bee on top of snow

It was very sunny and no wind today so I braved a low 30º F, in my knee-high boots, to stomp around inspecting the garden.  As much snow as there is on the ground, there are many signs that spring is not too far away.  I always see the arrival of American Robins (Turdus migratorius) as an indication that spring will be here soon enough.  Today was the second time I’ve seen a large flock of Robins come around.

Slightly disheveled looking Robin in a tree top
Slightly disheveled looking Robin in a tree top

Aside from Robins, the male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) no longer keep to their truce.  They seem to keep close to their female companions now and chase other full grown males around the yard.  The Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis) are also looking for nesting spots now and no longer just coming to the garden for food.

A male Cardinal staying close to the female
A male Cardinal staying close to the female
A flock of Eastern Bluebirds at one of the feeders
A flock of Eastern Bluebirds at one of the feeders

The American Goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) are starting to shed their winter coats.  There are little bits of yellow tipped grey down here and there on the snow, and the birds are beginning to show spring colors in bright yellow blotches.

American Goldfinch starting to show a bright yellow color
American Goldfinch starting to show a bright yellow color
A Pileated Woodpecker also joined the garden party today
A Pileated Woodpecker also joined the garden party today

With a lineage that stretches all the way back to the dinosaurs, I figure the birds know better than I.

6 thoughts on “Spring Is Around The Corner

  1. I adore your Pileated Woodpecker–used to have one visit the woods behind our previous house. I’m seeing similar birds but haven’t noticed the gold color returning on our Am. goldfinches.

    1. They are majestic, aren’t they? But their population is decreasing all around. They are on the brink of extinction now. They need mature woodland to live in. Interesting point about the Goldfinch not yet starting to molt where you are. Maybe they sense that a big snow storm is coming. I hope you won’t get hit much.

  2. Hi! You have a nice variety of feathered friends in your garden. I look forward to seeing who else visits as we roll toward spring. I like the name of your blog. Butterflies, birds, and flowers are very special to me as well. Thanks for commenting on my blog.

    1. Nature keeps me sane after a long day of being in NYC. Not just their beauty but the symbiotic relationship between them that also fascinates me. I consider it an accomplishment every time a new generation of birds is born an fledge in our garden, when a new type of insect appears or when our honey bees build up their next generation. It’s just a simple happiness that it gives me. I love your blog, with those fascinating birds that we don’t have around here. I’m hoping to see more of them as well.

  3. Well said. You have a poetic writing style. “Simple happiness” is the perfect way to describe how I feel when I am in nature. Pileated Woodpeckers have come to my suet feeders, but not yet this winter. It is always exciting when they do show up. You are lucky to have bluebirds at your feeders-they are so pretty. Some people on the Indiana bird list-serve have commented on seeing fewer Northern Cardinals this year. Has that been your experience or do the numbers seem normal in your area?

    My yard and garden is in a suburban neighborhood of lawns with many mature trees. My nature photography started there. Now I travel 2-3 times a year to find and photograph birds. I post the images on my daily photoblog. To see more birds and other critters, click on my name or go to http://www.juliebrown.aminus3.com

  4. We try our best to provide housing for the Bluebirds and we have seen their population increase. But, in truth, we don’t really know if it’s a change in population or location due to the food and housing we try to provide. We also have a lot of Northern Cardinals, so far eleven of them at one time this winter. I think they also see our garden as a reliable provider of food, water and shelter, especially in winter. So I’m not sure I can make a judgment as to increase or decrease in general population. But we do remove most of the feeders in summer, once the migratory birds have gone on their way, so they can work our garden feasting on fresh organic insects.

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