Sunday, February 27, 2011

Signs of spring

Today a tiny head poked up above the snow, the first chipmunk of the year! A sure sign that spring is on its way. Soon the Red-winged blackbirds will arrive with their raucous song, the males arriving first, flashing their red epaulets at other males, making their territorial claims.

The chipmunk purveyed the area, keeping an eye out for predators. He appeared very reluctant to leave the safety of the burrow. He first ventured up a nearby tree, then after an hour he scooted across the snowy yard to an abandoned groundhog burrow under a rock.
From there he watched the activity at the bird feeder, then maybe deciding it was still too cold, he retreated back to the comfort of his winter den. Even the peanuts I scattered on the ground could not entice him to come under the feeders. When you’re at the bottom of the food chain, you’re very cautious.
Several Dark-eyed juncos, another visitor from the northern woods, have spent the winter feeding in our yard and this morning I heard their trilling song, another sign of spring.

Dark-eyed Juncos
The Blue Jays have also started what is called “courtship feeding” where the male will bring food to a potential mate and delicately place it in her beak. It is so endearing to watch a pair sitting on a branch with the female coyly waiting for the offering. It’s comical to see how helpless the female can make herself appear.


There is still plenty of winter food around the yard and species such as the Common Crows and Enropean Starlings have been eating this bounty in order to survive.

High-bush cranberries

Soon vernal pools will appear when the snow melts. These are the ephemeral pools of water that dry up by summer but where many of our insects and amphibians start their lives. More on this later.
The snow has been slowly melting, warmer days and cool nights will soon have the maple sap running. My mouth is watering thinking about this truly Canadian sugary treat.  Nothing beats the taste of precious maple syrup on freshly made crepes. Mmmm…bring on spring!

1 comment:

  1. I woke up to -15C today...not so spring like here...but I did hear the song of chickadees the other day when it was a little warmer. The days are getting longer so I know it will soon come. In the mean time I will enjoy spring from a distance through your photos and posts!