Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Christmas in April: Arrivals Pouring In!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Blue-gray gnatcatcher.   

This spring every new day feels a little bit like Christmas morning.

It was a brutal, long, gloomy winter here in southeastern Ohio and springlike weather has been slow to arrive. But now that the insect-eating songbirds are beginning to make their spring appearances, I awake each morning full of anticipation about what gifts may have flown in from the south on the night breezes. This is why it's Christmas-like. Just like every Christmas Day morning for the past five decades, I'm rearing to go and full of "Can't wait!"

Often, these last few weeks, my very first thought—before my eyes are open—is: "I'll bet today is the day that the hummingbirds (or tree swallows, or blue-winged warblers, or wood thrushes) get back." The little, brightly feathered "presents" that Nature brings us each spring—in dribs and drabs at first, then in a marvelous gush of song and color as migration reaches its peak.

Oddly our current spring migration has been somewhat inconsistent with our records for returning dates of migrants. Hummingbirds are several days late. Tree swallows are back all around us but ours have not appeared, making us worry about their fate. Only a few warblers have come back—so far no tanagers or orioles. 

Male yellow warbler.

It's all right. Let them take their time. After all, the anticipation is almost as wonderful as seeing and hearing an old familiar friend, returned from a winter away from this old ridgetop farm.

White-eyed vireo. 
My first vireo of the spring was a male white-eyed vireo that was singing in our orchard on April 11, several days early according to our records. [We've been keeping arrival, departure, and nesting records here on Indigo Hill for 20 years. White-eyed vireos usually arrive each spring on April 15 or 16.]

Singing male ovenbird. Photo by Julie Zickefoose.
I was giddy to hear an ovenbird on Monday of this week. His song is so loud and percussive that it's hard to miss. I'm sure he was not back sooner. He was drifting around the old orchard to the west of our house, singing half-heartedly. By early May our woods will be ringing with the songs of ovenbirds and a dozen other warbler species.

Like the song says: "Springtime, you know it is my songbirds' sing time." And that's music to my ears.


On April 18, 2013 at 12:38 PM Anonymous said...

It's wonderful that you have records going back 20 years of your arrivals! I wish I had started such a list when we bought our house/church we live in. It's good they are holding back if the storms of today and yesterday are considered. While I usually have music on in the house, I am now leaving it quiet, listening, listening....rewarded with happy songs of Olive Sparrows, Chachalacas, and Black-crested Titmouse.... :)

On April 18, 2013 at 12:39 PM Claire Baker said...

That was me, above, somehow I became anonymous!

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