Thursday, February 5, 2009

…spring sounds are starting to pop up!

This morning I heard the spring mating song of the White-throated Sparrow, “Oh sweet, Canada, Canada, Canada.” In those liquid, silvery tones I felt my heart quicken just a bit knowing spring really was on the way. Three days ago, an American Goldfinch slipped into spring song too, and I stopped to listen, anticipating the coming season. I wait for these early spring sounds every year. As soon as I hear them, I know spring will return. Unfortunately, I only heard the White-throated Sparrow’s song once, a stark reminder that at 7 degrees F this morning, winter is still very much here.

The White-throated Sparrow’s song is beautiful and distinctive. It’s almost a whistle you can copy (but it never sounds as good!). As the days start to lengthen and the temperatures warm, they will sing more and more, trying to attract mates. Unfortunately, once spring is in full swing, they will leave our area for their breeding grounds up north and in central Canada, but until then, we get to listen to their beautiful song. Our white-throats are usually gone by mid to late May. It always seems a bit hollow those first few days when their wonderful song is missing from the yard.

Rick, hanging out of the basement window in the cold, 
captured this male White-throated Sparrow. 
What we won’t do for our birds…


The American Goldfinch also starts an early spring song as mating season kicks off, a harbinger of the warmer temps and milder weather in store, but even though they are starting to sing now, goldfinches are late nesters. They don’t start building their nests until the thistle seeds start to ripen, and in our area, that’s usually late June or early July. American Goldfinches use the thistle down to help build their nests, and they feed their young weed seeds and thistle seeds instead of insects like the earlier nesting songbirds. Timing their nesting season with the ripening of thistle seeds ensures their survival.

Larry found this guy in his backyard posing 
for him after the recent ice storm.


And as another reminder that winter is definitely still here, my girlfriend, Teri, sent me a photo of one of our local robins sitting patiently (waiting for spring, I think) in her crabapple tree.



…and then shortly before I was getting ready to post this entry, my cousin in Louisville sent me this shot of her robins in her crabapple tree. Apparently everyone is waiting for spring, no matter the locale, but I’m not sure patiently is the word for it!

15 comments:

Kallen305 said...

Rick takes some awesome photos!! I love the picture of the robin and white throated sparrow!

I have not heard the white throated song yet but will be certain to listen for it this weekend. We are getting 40 degree weather and I have a few of them in my yard.

Roy said...

Yeah, it's always sad when the White-throated Sparrows leave. And our Goldfinches don't winter here; they'll show up around May and leave again in September, so I never get to see them in person in their Winter plumage. Which is fine with me since their Summer plumage is so gorgeous!

Eric Ripma said...

I've started hearing many of the same birds singing lately. It really helps to brighten the day. Really nice photos.

Steve B said...

Yes, I've seen some gulls starting to pair up here in Gloucester, MA. Back in Colorado, the Black-billed Magpies should be starting their nests. I'm hoping for a good spring this year. Love the photos.

NW Nature Nut said...

My favorites are the White-throated and the robin too. I *love* the White-throated Sparrows. They are fairly unusual here and I have had two visiting this winter and love love love them! Great photos!

Kelly said...

Kallen...I hope to hear more of their calls too. I wish Rick could get out and take more photos. He's taught me a lot of what I know.

Roy...they just have "happy" written all over them in the summer, don't they!

Eric...Thanks! It does brighten the day. It totally shifted my mindset from winter to spring...and flowers...and warmth!

Steve...Thanks! I enjoyed your beautiful blog entry today with the Herring Gulls getting ready for spring! Living on the ocean is a birder's dream!!

Nature Nut...Thank you! I'm with you....I love love love them. Their song and the chickadee's song (and the thrushes too) go right into my heart every time I hear them.

Linda McGeary said...

Thanks Kelly for dropping by my blog, even though I'm not a dedicated bird watcher, I do love nature and the beauty in every day. And I so enjoy the gorgeous pictures on you site.
You really would have to be a patient, and quite person to get those kinds of pictures. Your passion for bird makes me want to take more notice, than my causal appreciation of the beauty of all nature in general.
I'll post a bird poem for you tomorrow. On SageWind Voices.

Snowbabies said...

The White-throated Sparrow is beautiful, well worth hanging out of a window for!

Paul.

Nick S said...

Nice to see you have lots of Robins in your neck of the woods too. I'm amazed they choose to stay in Saskatchewan though where it gets crazy cold :-)

Stacey Huston said...

So glad you are "hearing" signs of spring, because your photos don't look like spring. they are beautiful.. the boys did great! We have been having spring weather here in Wyoming, makes it so hard when the temps drop again.. stay warm, spring will be here before we know it..

Heather said...

Lately I've been enjoying here our White-throated Sparrows arguing amongst themselves while feeding. Their chatter is quite cute. I haven't heard any pronouncements about Canada yet in this neck of the woods! I must admit, even though I, too, will miss these guys, their departure signals the coming of some of my other favorite woodland singers - the Eastern Phoebe and the Wood Thrush.

Kelly said...

Linda - Thanks! I'll drop by to see the poem!

Paul - :-)

Nick - after following your blog and reading about your weather, I'm surprised too!

Stacey - haha! ...yes, hearing and seeing are not matching up yet!! Tomorrow it's supposed to reach 50. I can't wait...

Heather - you are so right. I won't hear the Phoebe or the Wood Thrush in my yard, but I'm only 10 mins from the Little Miami River, and I walk there almost every evening to hear the Wood Thrush...such a surreal, magical song...

Dave Lewis said...

Hi Kelly,
Rick is tremendous for a guy that is a 'reluctant birder'!
According to Kenn Kaufman, the White-throated Sparrow is singing 'Oh sweet Kimberly, Kimberly, Kimberly'. I think he's been brain washed by his wife!

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
Wonderful pictures of birds that are all pretty and well taken into pictures. I love the two last one...

Kelly said...

Dave...Rick went from the Reluctant Birder, to the Diligent Bird Photographer, to the Spotter (he has an eye for spotting the birds), and now just Spot (I don't have time to type out all of the extra letters any more). ...and it's pretty cool that you bird with the Incredible Birding Kaufmans! We have a lot of amazing bird people living in Ohio, don't we?
...oh yeah, and it's just part of the code that he is brain washed by his wife ;-)

Chris...thank you--the Robin Red Breast is gorgeous all fluffed up and paired with the snow and crabapples...