Changing of the Birds
The other day I saw three male robins poking around under a spruce tree in a small patch of bare ground, which was in stark contrast to the vast surrounding snow-covered landscape. Two days ago I heard a report of a flock of hundreds of (again, male) robins that descended on someone’s property a bit east of the Twin Cities. These robins are being terribly sadistic, as they KNOW that their presence is taken by most humans as a sign of spring, yet spring in Minnesota is a long way off.
The reason people think that Robin Red Breast is a sign of spring is that we believe that robins fly south for the winter and north for the summer, so when we see them, it must be getting near summer. The fact that many robins don’t migrate at all, but simply become reclusive for the winter, is not widely known. The fact that when they do migrate, they don’t necessarily migrate to a warm, sunny southern climate, but rather to a place east, west, south or maybe occasionally north, where they can be more easily reclusive, as also not widely known.
But none of that matters. What matters is that the robins remind us that it is time to switch to Summer Birdwatching Mode in a couple of months, so we should start getting ready now.
Here is the To Do list for summer birdwatching mode:
- Look for some snowy owls. If summer is coming, this is your last chance to see them.
- Make sure you know where the backup and extra binoculars are. The main binoculars are, of course, next to the window.
- Go through the bird books to decide which ones to bring to the cabin this year.
- Go buy a new bird book.
- Check the notebook from last year and see whether you need a new one.
- Think of something new to try this year. A recording of the loons? A close up of the eagles?
- Discuss bird-feeding strategy with rest of family.
This year, we should have a second-year eagle fledgling over by the marshy bay, and we hope the loons manage a chick this year (last year they did not). If we time things right, we might be able to intercept the tundra swan migration, as we did two years ago. And with a little luck…if we keep an eye on the web-based data and perhaps change our routes a little…
This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 25th, 2009 at 5:49 am and is filed under Greg Laden, Seasons. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.