Photoperiod and Signs of Spring

Spring: the first 20 days!

Gray skies, cold rain, snow and flooding have slowed down the arrival of spring but photoperiod will rule the day. Increasing day length is a powerful force that insures the necessary progression of life stages, regardless of the weather.

Many aquatic species, including this Great Blue Heron, arrived to find traditional wetland habitats still covered in ice (23March2017).


Snow geese were reported throughout Central New York during the last week of March. They were refueling on waste grain in corn fields and spread manure before continuing their journey to summer range in the Arctic (27-28March2017).




Wild turkeys were foraging on waste grain too, but increasing daylight was also triggering the mating urge in males; many were observed in full display posture, strutting for uninterested hens (1April2017).


Breeding populations of ring-necked pheasants no longer occur in this region, but some are occasionally released into the wild for recreational purposes. This cock pheasant is crowing and flapping his wings in an attempt to attract a hen (6April2017).



Red-winged blackbirds arrived several weeks ago and are defending their breeding territories aggressively, despite the elements (7April2017).


A sure sign of Spring is the transformation of male goldfinches as they molt into their bright breeding plumage (7April2017).


Groundhogs emerged from hibernation in March to find a snow-covered landscape. In the days ahead they faced yet another hardship – the flooding of burrows in marginal habitats. This one seems to have weathered the storms well…but is grazing in the middle of a hay field, a long way from the nearest burrow. Can it outrun an eagle, fox or coyote? Survival is still questionable (8April2017).


Photos by NB Hunter, March 23 – April 8, 2017. ©All Rights Reserved.


Birds in a Blizzard: Cardinals

I was up on the roof this morning, chipping ice and shoveling thigh-deep snow in anticipation of the next blast of arctic weather. It arrived this afternoon, and the resident birds swarmed the feeders in response. I photographed some, missed many – in part because the auto-focus couldn’t handle the heavy, falling snow and white-outs.






Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.