The tug of war between Winter and Spring, a battle that defines March, offers countless insights into the world of nature. One moment the sights and sounds of March reveal the brutality of winter and the struggle for survival. Within days, sometimes hours, songbirds are singing from territorial perches, cottontails are chasing and breeding in thickets, and ice-free surface waters become an open book to waterfowl migration. Then, it freezes and snows again!
Snow and ice persisted for most of March, resulting in predictable “winter” activity around backyard feeders.
Daytime temperatures remained cold, often just above freezing. But, the March sun prevailed and surface waters began to thaw.
Melting snow creates temporary, but critical, habitat for waterfowl in farm country: small ponds in low-lying fields. Geese, ducks, shorebirds and others frequent these seasonal rest stops during Spring migration.
The more permanent wetlands – swamps, marshes and backwater habitats – burst with life as soon as the ice recedes.
Red-winged Blackbirds, swaying and singing on cattail perches, are true harbingers of Spring. Can’t imagine Spring without these noisy marsh dwellers!
Eat and avoid being eaten. Rarely is the balance of life and the role of predators more apparent than in late Winter and early Spring. Coyotes and foxes are searching for food for hungry pups. Raptors are capitalizing on the visibility of prey and carrion on bare ground. Some, like this Sharp-shinned Hawk, are also hunting bird feeders. To paraphrase Cornell’s “All About Birds” website: “They’re pursuit hunters that surprise prey (mostly songbirds) by bursting out from a hidden perch with blinding speed.” This sharpie did just that!
Some birds of prey are more opportunistic than others. This mature Bald Eagle is heading to roost after foraging on carrion – a road-killed deer.
Photos by NB Hunter (March 6 – March 28, 2019). © All rights reserved.