Sandhill Crane

moon phase Week of 03/29/2009 Best days to write.

These past several days have been a blessing with lots of firsts to note, including the first day of Spring. Many things have changed over the years of my life, but people's enthusiasm about Spring isn't one of them. Their spirits have risen to where it shows in the smiles on their faces. People who normally would not wave are waving and smiling, and of course there's a lot more to talk about now that Spring is here. No doubt one of the special things about living here in the Kickapoo Valley, is nature is all around us and really rubs Spring into our faces.

Sandhill Crane Sandhill Crane My favorite part is all the wonderful new sounds, coming at me from all directions. Robins fighting in the yard. Angry chatters from two feisty males lead to kicking feet and ruffled feathers.

Several pairs of bluebirds arrived yesterday and the meadow is alive with the songs of bluebirds. They are so busy as they fly back and forth to a prospective birdhouse. Up and down, and in and out, landing on top, then flying about, all the time singing their little hearts out.

Yesterday was also the first day I heard a phoebe. He's come right back to his favorite perch on the peak of the old shed. Singing his name, he proudly alerts everyone in the yard of his arrival. I hear the beautiful songs of the song sparrows at the edge of the yard. From a sumac branch, he sings his sweet-sweet-sweet song.

The tiny chipping sparrows came back the same day and brought along their chip-rattling songs. What they lack in size, they make up for in voice. It always amazes me how much song cane come from such a small bird. The little house wren is another good example.

As I walked along the creek, a Jack snipe flew up and quickly zig-zagged his way up the creek, and a green bullfrog startled me when he leaped from under my feet and into the creek.

I turned my gaze to the bright blue sky above me when I heard the cooing from a flock of Swans. I was pleased when they passed right over me. They were pretty high in the blue sky, but the sun gleamed off their white feathers, making them stand out like sore thumbs.

Early in the morning, you can hear the courtship calls of the Sandhill cranes all up and down the river valley. Even the people in these small river towns are treated to Sandhill crane music every day. This morning I watched a pair of cranes doing their famous Spring mating dance. They face each other and leap high into the air with their great wings spread wide. They call out to each other just before mating. Their loud, bugling calls have become one of the most talked about signs of Spring by folks in the area.

I haven't heard any Spring peepers yet, but a couple of days of rain are forecast to begin this week. That could be just the thing to bring these tiny tree frogs out of hiding.

The wood ducks are feeling the season, as two male ducks follow a single female wherever she goes. Soon she will be checking trees for a possible nesting site. She may check every tree for miles, and the two males will follow her to each one.

The Kestrels too are beginning to think about romance, and like the Wood ducks, will nest in a hollow tree. Either of these birds will use a nesting box if it's to their liking.

The geese have paired and are finding nesting places in the marsh. Sometimes the top of a muskrat house makes a good platform for the down-filled nest. The goose is probably already laying a clutch of 6 to 8 eggs. She'll lay an egg each day, but won't start to incubate them until the last egg is laid. This way they all hatch at once. Before then, she spends her time close to the gander.

These are just a few of the exciting new spring sounds that can be heard in a single day. If you listen, you can also be a part of this great new beginning. It's time we all join and begin a new path for the new season.

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Joyce from from Southeast Missouri on April 14, 2009 at 07:10:25 PM
Dan~~the blue birds are beginning to build here in Mo. also..i have been saving the lint from my dryer and putting it out for the birds to use to line their nests...i look out my kitchen window any time of the day and see the wrens,sparrows,red birds,woodpeckers..oh so many different kind - we keep food out for them all year round. we also have squirrels,rabbits,chipmonks running around...
i have been seeing more hummingbirds since i wrote you last -today there was two males and a female that we seen...
Thank you again for all your drawings..i so enjoy nature and especially Spring! Joyce
sharon from from pittsgrove, nj on April 2, 2009 at 01:01:59 PM
Dan, well, that was kind of a sad story about the hawks. It was so thoughtful of you to try to save their home. I wish more people felt like this, then we wouldn't see so much of our natural surroundings being done away with in the name of progress. Happy Spring!
Joyce from from Southeast Missouri on April 2, 2009 at 12:14:02 AM
Spring has always been my favorite daughter got this saying above on a plack for me several years ago....i so enjoy your drawings and the things you write...last Friday we seen our first hummingbird,so i have one feeder they will be so many out my kitchen window.."out my kitchenwindow" every day i can look out and see a lot of Gods creatures!!
Joyce from from Fort Carson,CO on April 1, 2009 at 02:50:56 PM
Hi, I hope you got my previous comment about how wonderful I think your writing is. We love seeing the wild life here on the Army base. Spring comes to CO strangely, with a blizzard one day and sunny warm the next. Thanks for being the eyes and ears for many who may not be out in the country, but can appreciate the sights and sounds through words. Sincerely, Joyce
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