No time of year highlights the inadequacy of the calendar to describe seasons as much as this particular period in the upper latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. We humans, being the environmental cue-driven, chronologically constrained creatures that we are, look out a frost-rimed window at a wasteland of ice and snow and think, “I cannot WAIT for winter to end.” Yet, response-driven creatures like birds look past little things like blizzards to appreciate how much later the sun sets each day. I’m starting to observe behavior that suggests either that some critters think spring is much closer than the calendar says or that maybe we need a few more seasons!
Case in point, some of the Northern Cardinals in my area are beginning to sing the kinds of songs I don’t associate with the brutal winter conditions under which they are being sung. Is it possible that some of these young bucks are getting a jump on spring? Corey got out birding both days this weekend and had a typical suite of winter birds for the northeastern United States, with everything from Razorbill to Common Redpoll. Of all the species he spotted nothing pleased him more than finally connecting with his first Field Sparrow of the year: in fact, he saw four of them! Though it is a common species the fact it made Corey wait until late February made it his Best Bird of the Weekend.
How about you? What was your best bird of the weekend? Tell us in the comments section about the rarest, loveliest, or most fascinating bird you observed. If you’ve blogged about your weekend experience, you should include a link in your comment.
Smew, and a fine male too (you reading this, Carrie?), on a lake half an hour west of Heidelberg. Beats the 3 Greater Scaup on the same lake, which are quite rare here, too.
I had a red headed fledgling woodpecker Friday on a maple tree in the back yard. So cute!!
An American Kestrel flying over an agricultural field when riding my bike. I rarely see them here on the Olympic Peninsula.
I also saw my first Field Sparrow of the year this weekend, but my best bird was a bright nonbreeding male Western Tanager that’s been visiting a local feeder for the past week.
In keeping with early spring arrivals I loved seeing the 5 Barn Swallows at Magnunson Park in Seattle. They were managing what looked like enough flying insects to survive, giving hope that spring is on the way. They were also WA species #200 for me for 2021, a self-inflicted goal before I go away to visit my children for a month where the weather is warmer.