I walk often, usually traveling short distances on local trails. Late Spring is a wonderful time to do this because there’s so much going on in the world of wildlife.
Wildlife populations are approaching their annual peak as new recruits arrive daily!
Juvenile Red Squirrel
Songbirds are in various stages of nesting: some are building nests, some are sitting on eggs, some are feeding young. Regardless of the species, males can usually be heard singing on the nesting territories.
Chestnut-sided Warbler above a dense thicket of shrubs and young trees
Great Crested Flycatcher nesting in a “Bluebird” box (1 of 3)
Reptiles and amphibians have come alive in the summer-like heat. This American Toad has claimed my compost pile as home.
Tree Swallow activity in mid May is an absolute joy to observe. In just a few minutes time mated pairs can be seen nest building, battling intruders, feeding on the wing, resting and preening. They’re also quite vocal and the continuous twitter chatter is fascinating in and of itself. The focal point of all activity is a nest box on a post, located in a field or open area (the steel post used as a perch in these images is the anchor for a nest box that is just out sight). Enjoy!!!
This past week saw the rapid expansion and growth of Sugar Maple foliage,
The fading of some early spring wildflowers,
And the fresh blooms of new arrivals in the sequence of bloom,
Painted Trillium, the last of the 3 native trilliums to bloom
Wild Apple tree
Plants within a species don’t bloom simultaneously, an adaptation that helps avoid catastrophic losses due to environmental extremes. There is a frost warning for tonight, but only 10 – 20% of the wild apple trees have started to bloom. Hoping we get through this with plenty of blossoms …and apples… to enjoy!
I received these instructions from a cavity nesting songbird, one that serenades me while I’m working in the garden: the common House Wren.
Step 1.In the absence of a hollow tree, find a small box with a hole in it. Stuff the box with tiny twigs (about 600, give or take a hundred). Leave some room at the top for bedding and the kids. Oh, and in your spare time, stuff every other nest box in sight with twigs to discourage the competition.
Step 2. Scavenge some soft material for bedding (you don’t want the kids flying around with a stick up their butt). Fragments of insulation from a nearby dog kennel work well.
Step 3. Sing loud and often to let the world know what you’ve done. And that you own it.
The spring songbird migration coincides with with the explosion of floral and vegetative growth in deciduous trees and shrubs. It’s a thrilling dynamic and wonderful time of year to become immersed in the great outdoors!
New foliage on a maple in early May
Change is rapid, every day a new palette, and “here today, gone tomorrow” describes my experience with many migrating songbirds. Two days ago there were vibrant colors and sweet songs everywhere. Rose-breasted Grosbeaks were low and at the feeders, Baltimore Orioles high above, foraging in the tree canopies.
Cornell, on its “All About Birds” website, describes the Rose-breasted Grosbeak as an “exclamation mark” at feeders. So true – for the brilliant male! However, females are easily overlooked or miss-identified, especially when the huge bill isn’t clearly visible.
I was amused to see that a bird with a massive, seed- and fruit- crunching bill would be interested in the smallest of seeds at the openings of the goldfinch tube feeder.
Some of these grosbeaks will remain while others will continue their northerly migration and search for summer nesting habitat. The low woody vegetation of young forests and forest edges is their target.
A continuous cycle of rainy, cold weather has made it difficult to enjoy the flush of new growth and vibrant colors that define early spring. A welcome exception to these dismal conditions is the presence of goldfinches swarming around the Nyjer seed* feeders. Their bright breeding plumage has a florescent glow in the drizzle and fog.
*Nyjer seed: a trademarked name for the seed of African yellow daisy, grown commercially in African, India, southeast Asia