Saturday, January 28, 2006

Avian Confusion

Today it was over 50 degrees here. 50! In January! This wacky, warm winter has confused the local birds. This morning I heard a cardinal singing, an effort that even the most ardent don't usually start until at least mid-February.

I also heard a flicker drumming territory on the transformer box that brings electricity up the mountain. Transformer boxes are the preferred flicker drumming instrument, as best I can tell. It makes a hellaciously loud noise, which is exactly what they want. The noise is far louder than can be produced on any hollow tree.

When I spent my first night in this house, I was awakened in early April after working late to unpack by a loud noise that I couldn't place. It turned out to be a flicker on the transformer box, soon joined by another flicker dueling back on yet another box. I can only imagine the joy these birds felt the first time one of them tried drumming on a transformer box. I'll bet those birds never drummed on a tree again. Anyway, I don't usually even see flickers in January as when it's a normal winter without open water and with lots of snow cover, the birds head down the mountain to more sheltered thickets and only return in early spring.

I also saw several turkey vultures today, another bird that is usually missing in January. These birds migrate but tend to stay nearby, perhaps along the Susquehanna River and only head back to the mountain to stay in mid-February or so. Occasionally, I've seen them in early February on a warm day, and only for that warm day. But this year, I've seen them almost every day throughout the month of January.

Even the squirrels, who do a short hyber-nap were out today, dancing through the branches, much to the excitement of the cats.

Does this weather mean spring will come in February? Or will winter finally make an appearance and last until it should be summer? What goofy weather this is!

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