Friday, February 16, 2007

Spring!?


Of all the many things I like about birding, one that I like most is that watching our feathered friends keeps us more closely attuned to the rhythms of nature, and the rhythms of the year.

For most people trapped in this icy mid-Atlantic freeeze, it must seem like the middle of winter. The calendar shows spring, as measured by the vernal equinox, to be five weeks away. But spring (loosely defined) has actually begun!

How do we know? Well, the American Goldfinches that stop by our feeders periodically during the colder months started, just in the last week or two, sporting a tad more yellow around their heads and a lot more white in their white wingbars. Other birds that have been around all winter are a little bit brighter, too, as they get ready for springtime courtship and mating. Some members of our local birding listserv, MDOsprey, have reported signs of bird courtship behavior, like seed-sharing. And when I get up in the morning to trudge through the ice and snow to get the newspaper, the birds are chattering and singing a lot more than they were three weeks ago.

Thanks to birding, and a handy-dandy piece of software called AviSys, I know with a fair bit of certainty that I'll see a returning Osprey sometime between Feb 28 and March 10. Then Spring will have really begun.

In the meantime.... Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

(BirdCouple is off this holiday weekend for our annual LATE winter birding excursion to the Maryland and Delaware shore. We will celebrate 5 years since we first met - love you, Lisa - and hopefully see some great winter birds before they, too, sense it is spring and head back north. Stay tuned).



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