Monday, March 24, 2008

The Sun is Finally Back Out

Things are looking up as the sun is out and the temperatures are rising. First sign of activity at my feeders is the squirrels burrowing through the snow to get to the seeds. Second sign of activity is the juncos sitting in the nearby bushes waiting for the squirrels to leave. Continuing to wonder about this spring's migration, I checked out the Logbook of Minnesota Bird Life, 1917-1937 by T.S. Roberts (the "Father of Minnesota Ornithology"). Much of his work, along with others is stored at the Bell Museum of Natural History. Here's a short entry from Feb. 15th - April 15th, 1927 in the logbook:

"The present period closes with vegetation in the southern part of the state just fairly started. Elms, soft maples, box-elders, poplars, cottonwoods, and willows have been in bloom for some time, and the spring haze of various shades of green, red, and brown soften and beautify the recently bare woodlands. The red-berried elder, the gooseberry bushes, and the lilacs in towns are green with early leaves. The skunk cabbage has been in bloom since March 30th, pasque flowers since April 1st, hepatica since April 11th, and Dutchman's breeches since April 14th. The first mourning cloak butterfly was awing March 9th, but were not common until early April. The first angle-wing butterfly March 30th. Frogs were croaking March 30th. The first woodchuck out March 5th, first striped gopher March 31st, first chipmunk April 6th, garter snakes April 13th. But in the northern forest there is still much snow on the ground, with the ice on lakes and streams unmelted and vegetation showing little signs of starting. Even under such conditions Mr. Breckenridge, who was recently along the north shore of Lake Superior, found Hermit Thrushes, Fox Sparrows, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets already amid the snows and enduring nightly temperatures that made ice nearly an inch thick on the still bays of the lake. The migratory stimulus, whatever it may be, is certainly all-powerful, impelling these early birds to face hardships and dangers that bring suffering and death to not a few.

Get out and see what's happening in YOUR neck of the woods!

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