Sunday, March 07, 2010

Signs of Spring 1 - early birds

kw: observations, birds

We just returned from taking a walk in a schoolyard near our home. It has two fields, and we observed the birds that came and went as we circled the track a few times. First we noticed the robins, but then my wife pointed out a compact group farther away, which we figured are blackbirds. I couldn't count the blackbirds, but robins are more steady birds, and I counted 42, then a 43d flew in and the blackbirds dashed off in a compact flock.

Robins are year-round birds here, but so seldom seen after November that many people think they are migratory. They hide out in the woods between the towns and neighborhoods in winter, and don't return to open fields until most of the snow has melted off. So they are a signal of snowmelt.

From the back side of the track we could observe the softball fields, where there were more birds of both kinds. Even far across the field we could distinguish them by their movements, and the tendency of the blackbirds to clump while the robins were more spread out. Robins also come and go singly, while blackbirds arrive and leave en masse.

My wife and I typically chat as we walk, though sometimes we are silent part of the time. This time, we had the birds to talk about, all the way 'round and 'round.

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