Tuesday, February 27, 2007

February Birding

I know I said I wouldn't post any more ice storm photos but when I was going through my photos I found this one, and I couldn't resist it. How about that hairdo on this blue jay??

Spring is coming. I know this because I heard the first killdeer this morning. I think I will call this is the first official sign of the oncoming season. I suppose I could count cardinals’ singing as a “sign,” but cardinals will sometimes sing on sunny days in January too, so I don’t count them. I think cardinals start looking for spring as soon as the first snow hits the ground, and their singing is more a sign of optimism and anticipation than of impending spring.

Now that the end of February is near, I’m starting to look through my 2007 February bird list that I keep of sightings around my Roundtop cabin and compare it with lists from previous years. The 2007 version of my list has so far recorded slightly fewer species than average, though I can’t say I find this surprising. My February bird lists are very tied to the weather of each year. When February is mild or at least not snow-covered, my list is larger.

For example, winter robin sightings are missing from my 2007 list. I think the ice drove them south or at least away from here. As soon as the ground is mostly free of snow and especially ice, I will see them. I haven’t seen flickers this winter either. These birds don’t really migrate, but I’ve noticed that they leave the mountain and head downhill to more sheltered areas during winter. As soon as the weather warms a few degrees they will show up and start drumming territory on the electrical transformers again.

Goldfinches have been in especially short supply here this winter. I haven’t heard anyone one else mention this, so it’s likely just a local variation. Another oddity for my February sightings, or the lack thereof, are sparrows. I typically have white-throated, song, maybe fox or white-crowned sparrows in some numbers. Not this year. Sightings of any sparrow other than the junco have been few and far between so far. Yesterday I had one sighting of one song sparrow.

Each year of birding and tracking the species I see brings its own pattern of unusual sightings, late sightings, early sightings, etc. Each year has its own oddities and commonalities. In that, at least, this year is no different. It’s why I enjoy it so much.

1 comment:

LauraO said...

Nice photo of the blue jay's bad hair day. I'm noticing signs of spring here too - YES!

Finches are in short supply everywhere this year - rumor has it they stayed in the northern regions because of the huge mast crop of cones this year.