The snow flurries that came last Thursday were only a slight setback as we march toward summer. By the middle of the week the temperatures rose dramatically to the mid 80s and the cold and snow from last week was barely a memory.
It’s so wonderful to hear the bird and frog songs in the river valley, music I’ve waited to hear since way back last spring. The sounds of spring have warmed my winter heart to the green promise of summer, there’s no turning back now. I’ve gotten several questions lately about a strange sound coming from the woods. The young Great Horned owls have fledged and each night they sound off with their strange hunger calls, reeeep! They are begging for their parents to bring them some food and will continue to do so until late fall. For a couple of weeks their voices are kind of in between—rooop, roooop! That’s an owl song that is rarely heard by most folks and even harder to identify by those who hear it for the first time.
Things are going smoothly for the area Barred owls and some of them are already ahead of schedule. Already there are baby Barred owls in some of the nests. They aren’t the most beautiful babies, in fact they are so ugly, they are cute. The adult Barred owls are one of the species of owls that have black eyes rather than yellow. The adults are known for their haunting calls, “hoohoo, hoohoo, hoohoo—hoohooaw” or “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all.”
The bird feeders have been very busy with new birds arriving daily and I put out as many sunflower seeds now as in the middle of the winter. The Rose-breasted grosbeaks can really put them away and there are about 20 of them in the yard. The smaller Goldfinches and House finches also eat their fair share of the black seeds along with a few Red-winged blackbirds and towhees. The little gray winter birds (juncos) are gone now, having moved further north to their summer nesting grounds. I won’t see them again until next fall when they come back to spend the winter with me.
Lots of Yellow-rumped warblers in the area this week, it’s always nice to see these fancy colorful little warblers. They stick around for a couple of weeks then head to northern Wisconsin where they raise their families. They too come to the bird feeders for the free sunflower seeds and even occasionally pick at the suet feeder.
Reports of the first little gray morel mushrooms coming in, right on time and making a lot of exciting talk among the local mushroom hunters. The week of leaf out will be next week and the larger yellow morels will be popping up.
The little House wrens are busy carrying tiny sticks to the wren houses. They are prolific nest builders and a joy to watch and listen to. There will be more from them later so stay tuned for more stories from the world of Jenny Wren.
I never tire of watching the Turkey vulture soaring overhead. They have also started their nesting duties and lay their eggs on a flat shelf on the limestone outcropping.
They can be mistaken for an eagle from a distance, having very large, dark wingspans and for their gliding on the breeze above the treetops. The Turkey vulture gets his name from their featherless red heads that look very much like the head of a wild turkey.
Some of the turkeys are still in the courtship mode and the males display their beautiful brown and bronze feathers to each other. One fancy strutting tom spread his huge tail feathers and turned his backside to me. I was hoping he would turn around and show me his long beard but the shy turkey would have none of that. He gave out a loud gobble, gobble and he and his two chums walked on up the hill. I love to watch the turkeys this time of year and I’m looking forward to seeing those first little new turkey chicks as they follow mom wherever she goes.
The White Crowned sparrows are large sparrows with a striking black and white head. I wish they would stick around all summer but soon they will be gone to points further north. I’ll enjoy them while they are here and look for them in the fall when they migrate south.
I hope spring has changed your attitude about what life is really about. Get outside and let nature show you the way.
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