As we approach the end of the winter season, we excitedly wait for the start of the spring migration season to commence. This particular migratory season is normally accompanied by the appearance of many plant and animal species we do not normally observe throughout the wintertime of the year. In addition to the new birds at our feeders, we start to look for new plant growth such as buds and shoots to become visible in our yards. We anxiously await the appearance of new behaviors in both mammal and bird species including the appearance of early insect activity. The American robin, long considered the traditional spring arrival indicator, though some scientists believe the red-winged blackbird might just be replacing it in this category, appears in flocks that are moving back north from the south where they have been feasting on available food sources of berries and earthworms during the wintertime. Occasionally we may observe over winter members of this group of birds, which has become more expected in recent years as opposed to years ago. After this first wave we begin to observe the resident robins appearing a little later.
Many civilizations of early man had monoliths of stone or wooden posts to mark the appearance of the vernal equinox, which is the time when the sun crossing the celestial equator making day and night equal in all parts of the earth.
This period was vitally important to early man because it gave him information about when it was safe to plant his crops, perform certain religious ceremonies and go about his many other life functions. Today many of these natural occurrences are not as critical to us as it may have been back than, but each of us in our own way observes many of these signs as critical to us in our life spans.
Clockwise from the left: A male goldfinch, a short-eared owl, a dandelion flower and another male goldfinch.
Some of the common signs we pay attention to are the dandelions of which I have included a photo for sentimental reasons. Some of you may have a positive feeling while others do not look forward to those summer days when your lawn becomes infested with these little plants of nature. Birds began to exhibit early signs of the season with early plumage change from the dull or drab winter plumage to the exciting colors of spring designed to attract potential mates for procreation of the species. The little goldfinches attached show the difference in winter and spring plumage. Other examples are the owls; this season we have been fortunate to observe several species of wintering owls such as the great gray and the snowy owl; now during the summer we hope to be treated to sightings of long-eared owls and saw whet owls.
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