It’s spring. Can you feel it in the air? Smell what can only be spring?
Pussy willows are out where the sun shines bright, and I’m sure some of you have seen the welcome burst of spring blossoms. For those of us in the northern reaches of North America who haven’t put our shovels away, well, we know it’s spring, too: We can see it on the calendar.
Spring first comes to us in the form of signs. Are you watching for the telltale signs of spring? For me, the surest sign of spring is the menagerie of winged messengers who return to northern nesting grounds from (typically) more southern winter habitats after a winter absence.
This year, one bird song I’m anticipating is the single clear note of the varied thrush, a bird I began to notice as a kid. In places like the temperate rainforests of Alaska’s Tongass, the territorial call of the varied thrush pierces the silence of old-growth cathedral forests long before winter snows are melted.
It’s hard to have a true favorite: I’m listening for the far-off bugle of the migrating sandhill cranes, too. If I were in the Great Plains, I’d first listen for the thin, tinkling cascade of notes signaling the arrival of what is often the first spring migrant: the horned lark.
And how about the clever wolf-whistle of the upland sandpiper? The ebullient songs of the meadowlarks, the welcome cheer of the bobolink , and the song — oh, sweet Canada Canada Canada — of the migrating white-throated sparrow? The earnest courtship displays of common goldeneyes on spring wetlands? The run-across-the-water ceremony of the Western grebe? At dusk, do you wait to hear the friendly rhythm of the whip-poor-will?
Are you waiting for the birds to arrive this spring? Which bird signals spring for you? Where will you hear it, or see it? Let’s hear it!
(Image: Varied thrush. Image credit: Minette_Layne/Flickr through a Creative Commons license.)