Spring is sprung, the grass is riz

I wonders where the birdies is

“The bird is on the wing”

Don’t be absurd, the wing is on the bird.

– (Old poem remembered from childhood, learned from my father)

Well, I’m back after spending March working day, night and weekend, so taking a few days off to recover.

I’ll start with today and work back a bit, as I did post a few of these pictures on Facebook and Twitter.

We have had the coldest winter since I moved to Ontario almost 35 years ago.  Even Alberta warmed up faster than here.  However, finally, it is up to 12ºC (54ºF for you old-fashioned folks south of the border) so there is finally some ground showing, even though it is still frozen, so SNOWDROPS! (Snoopy dance performed!)

Snowdrops
Snowdrops

DO NOT look at those seedlings sprouting. They are illusory. There are no weeds going to grow in my garden this year.

From yesterday, here is a picture of a pair of cardinals.  Since they are on the bird feeder, it’s not a lot of effort for that male to pick up a seed and hand beak it to to his mate, but it is a touching gesture.

Cardinal love birds
Cardinal love birds

The migrants have begun to arrive.  The Red-winged Blackbird was the first I saw, though there are Canada Geese honking overhead and wetlands birds are usually earlier so I’ll have to head over the the conservation area which is about 5 miles downstream from here, where the river flattens out enough for water birds.

He has been doing his mating dance, so I might catch that soon; it’s too hard to do while on global conference calls which have been running most of the daylight for the last few weeks.

The male turkey was doing the same today, but I scared them off as I hadn’t seen them until the same moment I came around the corner of the house and they saw me, but Laurie was watching them.

Red-winged blackbird
Red-winged blackbird

Here is another migrant, just arrived.

American Robin
American Robin

I don’t see the local meadow voles very often as they live in tunnels just below the surface of the ground.  However, in winter, the tunnels are under snow right at the snow/ground boundary so as the snow melts they have to dash between patches until the ground thaws and they can dig.  When I looked them up on the Internet, I came across this quotation: “The Meadow Vole is believed to have the highest reproductive rate of any mammal in the world”.

Meadow Vole
Meadow Vole

One reason they like to stay underground is this hawk, who would love to have a vole for dinner but meanwhile is trying to get a junco out of the ninebark, but the bush is too thick for the hawk even though it is very impressive how deep it can penetrate while still flying. The junco got away as the hawk eventually gave up.

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Sharp-shinned Hawk

I’m guessing it is a sharp-shinned hawk. I checked pictures and the main difference from the Cooper’s seems to be that the shoulder is much lower on the Cooper’s, but I could be wrong. Any bird experts care to comment?

Here are a couple of shots of it in flight (!) in the middle of that ninebark.

Sharp-shinned Hawk in flight in ninebark
Sharp-shinned Hawk in flight in ninebark
Sharp-shinned Hawk in flight in ninebark -2
Sharp-shinned Hawk in flight in ninebark -2

Finally, a lesson in camouflage. The squirrel shows how to do it.

Gray squirrel
Gray squirrel

The cardinals do not seem to have got the point.

Cardinals in thorn bush
Cardinals in thorn bush

Snowdrops! Flowers! Spring!

This has been such a long, cold winter that today’s warm(-ish) weather was almost an emotional release from the winter. For those in warmer climes, you won’t quite get the upward change in mood that snowdrops bring when you see them in a tiny gap in the snow cover.

I’ve never used so many exclamation marks in one title before.  This has been such a long, cold winter that today’s warm (6ºC=43ºF) weather was almost an emotional release from the winter.  OK, it may get colder again later in the week, but I’ll be indoors working and it will get warmer.  For those in warmer climes, you won’t quite get the upward change in mood that snowdrops bring when you see them in a tiny gap in the snow cover.  Not exactly spectacular, but bring a bigger reaction than my indoor orchids:

Snowdrop 1
Snowdrop 1
Snowdrop 2
Snowdrop 2

Another Spring Sign – Robins arrived

I was wondering what they were going to eat because we still have almost complete snow coverage, about 30 cm.  It turns out that, while waiting for the grass to clear and insects/worms to be available, they eat the few mushy crab apples that were left by the turkeys.

Robin eating crabapples
Robin eating crabapples
Robin in Thornbush
Robin in Thornbush