The Promising Sounds of Spring

03/18/2018

When I first started to write this blog just over two weeks ago, it was snowing pretty hard. It was a heavy wet snow that clung to the trees in my woods causing the branches to droop downward. Before I could finish, the power went out. And it stayed out for four days. When I was able to get back online, I wrote a blog about dealing with four days without power instead, and promised to finish this one next. So here goes:

Every morning at daybreak, I take Daisy Mae for a one-mile round-trip doggy-walk along the backcountry road on which we live. And beginning around the first of March, I began to notice the promising sounds of spring. It always begins at dawn with the cawing of crows—and even though crows are year-round residents—their incessant squawking seems more pronounced at this time of year. Perhaps it’s because of their impending mating season. And on two of those mornings, the crow-squawking elicited the gobbling responses of a wild tom turkey, whose own mating season is coming up soon as well. Add to those sounds the “cronk-cronk” of a distant pair of ravens, the largest member of the crow family, which—like turkey vultures—are relative newcomers to the Finger Lakes Region.

But there are cheerier sounds, too. The male cardinal is the first songbird to rehearse the melodic repertoire that he will use to profess his love and claim his territory. Cardinals mate for life and the male is tireless at defending his turf. Perhaps you’ve seen one attacking his reflection in a window or in the mirror on your car door. And then on one particularly still morning I heard the subtle warbling of a small flock of bluebirds just as the sun was coming up. Even Daisy noticed. The woods seemed to be alive with them.

Speaking of blue, even the blue jay, which is the smallest member of the crow family, was singing a different tune, rather than complaining about every little movement in the woods. They, too, have a selection of gentle tweets that is distinctly their own. And of course there is the familiar honk of Canada geese, winging their way northward once again, bringing the promise of another springtime yet to come. I also heard the less-familiar and more-subtle honks of migrating snow geese and tundra swans heading northbound in their V-formations as well.

On two occasions I head the swampy call of the male red-winged blackbird, even though the vernal ponds down the road are still frozen. But most folks consider the American robin to be the true harbinger of spring. And while the one pictured above may be too much of an early bird to get the worm, it’s so nice to them arrive.


Story and photo by John Adamski