Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spring Observations in Bleak Winter

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I am working from the farm for the next 10 days or so, trying to get some writing done on the next book project. It's a bleak, raw day here—every single thing seems to be some shade of gray, drab olive, or brown. The utterly bare branches of the deciduous trees, devoid of swelling buds, beseech the sky to let the sun come out to play. Even the normally cheery carmine red of the northern cardinals seems subdued. 'Round these parts we call this book-writin' weather. May as well, it's too muddy and bone-chilling to be outside.

Tufted titmouse, peanut pig.

There are a couple of subtle signs of spring among the feathers. And for this I am truly thankful.

  • The male American goldfinches are showing just a few small spots of bright yellow spring finery.
  • Stick your head outside and you'll hear spring singing already! Cardinal, white-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse, Carolina chickadee, American robin, Carolina wren, and song sparrow are all in spring tune-up mode.
  • The red-tailed hawks at the end of our driveway are perching a bit closer together each day. One day soon they'll be close enough to touch each other, and we all know what happens next boomchickywahwahchickywahwah.
  • And finally, now, when I see a Carolina wren, I nearly always see TWO Carolina wrens. A small wisp of moss on the bird feeder tells me they are already nest building in the copper bucket under the front door eave.
The Carolina wrens are nest building, though not on our weather vane.

I admire our birds for how they carry on living despite the fact that the weather is bleak and cold. I'd admire them even more if one of them would get in here and help me finish this book chapter.


On February 16, 2012 at 11:23 AM Mary said...

Fantasic post. Just what I needed today. That male Cardinal shot is beautiful!!!!

On February 16, 2012 at 1:10 PM John Rakestraw said...

It's amazing how signs of spring start appearing right after the winter solstice. I like your soundtrack for the Redtail nuptials, not that I recognize that reference.

On February 16, 2012 at 1:40 PM Lori Scheutzow said...

In addition to the regular Zickdough suet & sunflower seeds, I've been putting some old stale dried fruit, peanuts and crumbles of zick dough on the railing of the backporch. About 20 feet away is a thicket of forsythia where a pair of cardinals, nuthatches, juncoes, sparrows and various finches hang out. It's fun to see them swoop down and snatch a piece away, multi-species sharing, with little guys holding their own against the titmice and cardinals. I can't believe the difference in the speed at which Z-suet disappears compared to the Mc'Donalds of store-bought crap. I'm sure we have more exotic birds out there, but we just haven't learned what they all are yet. I like winter birding against the white snow, since they're so easy to spot. BTW, we never did see the snowy owl at the airport. HE would have been easy to spot, snow or no snow!

On February 16, 2012 at 7:13 PM WisconsinWildMan said...

The singing of the birds has been most apparent in the morning when we walk our beagle. In particular the male house finches have been very vocal. But we've also seen signs of spring in the garden, the prairie coneflowers are coming up already.

On February 18, 2012 at 4:44 AM eileeninmd said...

Great post and I love your birds. We might be in for a wild weekend weather wise, maybe some snow will bring in a lot of birds for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Have a great weekend!

On February 21, 2012 at 12:51 PM Bird Country US said...

Every year as the winter wears on, I threaten to start a petition to have Indiana's state color be officially designated as gray. But then spring shows up and the point becomes moot - I sure wish it would hurry.

On February 27, 2012 at 6:52 PM Patma said...

I am sooo new at this. I am having trouble identifying a bird I took a picture of. I think it is some kind of black bird or grackle?? But the beak? Would you take a look at my blog and help?


On March 1, 2012 at 11:28 AM T Alan Schneider said...

Bill: Thought you might like to know now that I've found your blogger spot, that I've been enjoying watching a couple of Red-headed woodpeckers here in northern Livingston county, MI since early Feb. Come 3-4 times daily to small suet feeder and they take sunflower seeds as well to our giant willow tree at lake's edge. Shocked the heck out of me the first time one landed on our deck stair railing, I gasped. Read about it in my new blogspot, Swallows in the Storm, red-headeds in winter? First time ever I've seen them as such, marvelous!