Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A "Spring" Day in Minnesota

Since this has been a winter for the record books here in Minnesota, I guess there's really no reason we should have expected spring to arrive on schedule. It's just hard to believe that today could have been so awful when just 2 days ago it was 50 degrees and sunny!

Thunderstorms with heavy rain yesterday and last night gave way to heavy snow for much of the morning. It's a good thing there are still a few crabapples left on some of my trees for my robins!

Lots of juncos still in the backyard although the birdseed I spread on the ground for them was covered by snow in a very short time. Fortunately, they were able to scratch and scrounge around enough to find it.

Little red squirrel took advantage of birdseed on top of this stump feeder. The snow doesn't seem to bother him at all.

Another little red squirrel discovered the full seed tray on my deck. I like how he uses his tail as a snow shield and also how his ears and whiskers collect and hold the snowflakes (click on the pic to enlarge it). They are little piggies, but still so cute & fun to watch.

Couldn't resist taking yet another cardinal photo. They're singing the spring songs, but still not actively asserting dominance for territorial rights in my backyard yet, so I'm still seeing a number of cardinals at the birdfeeders.

Here's a house finch, junco and goldfinch all taking advantage of the big birdfeeder. Just yesterday we noticed that grass in the backyard was actually starting to look a little greener!

It took a few attempts, but the downy woodpeckers finally remembered how to get inside the cage to the suet log. I had to put the cage back on the suet log because flocks of European starlings (who arrived back with the blackbirds and grackles) had picked this suet log clean. My starling trap has been getting a real workout this week (that's the topic for a future blog post.....)

Huge flocks of blackbirds arrived late last week. These are mostly common grackles and red-winged blackbirds, but I'm thinking there might be some rusty blackbirds and/or Brewer's blackbirds mixed in with these flocks too.

When we were out on a birding drive last Saturday afternoon, we got to hear and see some rusty blackbirds. They have a really distinctive song which I was able to identify with the help of my birdJam.

I don't know about you, but there's just something fundamentally wrong with seeing and hearing a spring/summer bird in this snowy landscape. (Maybe the birds think so too!) I'm pretty sure this is a first year male red-winged blackbird. Spots and wing bars are still visible, but it also looks like there might be a few of the red shoulder feathers appearing too.

And here's a really beautifully streaked female red-winged blackbird. The females are far less abundant at my backyard feeders, so I always consider it a rare privilege to see them -- especially this close!

The only nice thing about wintry weather this time of year is that we can be fairly certain it will be short-lived. Temps are are going to be pretty chilly for the next couple days, but highs in the 40s are predicted for the weekend. I've had my Nature's Window monitor turned on all day and am enjoying hearing all the spring bird songs even when it's just too nasty to spend much time outside.

Hope you're enjoying some spring birds in your backyard!


Gaelyn said...

Ruthie I really thought the snows would be over for you. At least you're seeing, and hearing, the spring bird song.

Anonymous said...

The only thing about the snow this time of the year is you can listen to the spring birds and their songs. It turns a miserable day into a pretty nice one.


RuthieJ said...

I thought so too Gaelyn! And now this morning it's only 15 degrees! But the sun's out, so that will melt some of this snow and ice anyway.

You're right about that Mom. And the snow won't be sticking around too long either.

Ruth said...

Your pictures are really nice (for January!) When I feel like complaining about all the snow, I think about the birds who need spring temps more than I do.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Ruth,
I know exactly what you mean. Today we will be enjoying our third day of sunshine and no wind, so even though it's only 20 degrees, at least it will be a day without snow!