Monday, January 24, 2011
Last Friday morning it was -27 degrees F as I drove to work. We have had quite the run of cold weather and lots of people make their hate of winter the main topic of conversation. However in the natural world it is already "spring". We have gained about a half hour of daylight since late December and that is causing lots of bird activity. This morning I heard the first Northern Cardinal singing it's spring song in spite of it being 12 degrees and barely light. Great Horned Owls are dueting in the woods and here in Minnesota the first nests with females on eggs should happen very soon. Black-capped Chickadees will be doing their territorial call before we know it.
It will still be a while until our local winter visitors decide to head north but movement of some of the earliest migrants is probably underway. Horned Larks come to mind as early movers. If there is a desire to see Great Gray and Northern Hawk Owls in the bogs of northern Minnesota there is still time but in a month they'll be getting restless for their move to the spruce swamps of Canada. And while it will be months before we have a warbler wave move through the backyard, in the tropics our northern breeders will be gone from the wintering grounds by March.
So as you look out the window at home and see the snow drifting across the driveway and the thermometer reminds you why you spent so much on a winter parka, take solace in knowing that spring is here. It just doesn't seem that way sometimes.