Thursday, April 28, 2016

#Phenology for the birds

Woods that a few days ago were bare-naked skeletons are finally beginning to fill out with leaves, the way a person recovering from a serious illness will then start to regain weight. This morning's snow shower reminded me to be grateful for the few days when it's not raining, or cloudy or cold or snowing. It's surprising that, since Minnesota is noted for Winters warming faster with climate change, there doesn't seem to be much carryover into Spring. The notes about more clouds and rain sure seem on target for Spring. One thing more noticeable this Spring, and it's not clear whether the change is real, that the leaves actually have a wider range of non-green colors, especially hints and tints of red, or imaginary.

leaves filling out bare trees
leaves filling out bare trees
Photo by J. Harrington
Another place more red seems to have recently appeared is at the bird feeders. The woodpecker count increased markedly during the past few days, including the reappearance of a red-bellied woodpecker that hasn't been seen for the past several months. A cardinal pair has taken to showing up a dawn, dusk and, recently, mid-day. Perhaps the increasing tree cover is making our feathered friends more bold. Still no sign of "Summer birds" such as rose-breasted grosbeaks or tanagers. Most likely another couple of weeks will bring them along.

red bird (male cardinal) at feeder
red bird (male cardinal) at feeder
Photo by J. Harrington

The Trees


Philip Larkin

The trees are coming into leaf
Like something almost being said;
The recent buds relax and spread,
Their greenness is a kind of grief.

Is it that they are born again
And we grow old? No, they die too,
Their yearly trick of looking new
Is written down in rings of grain.

Yet still the unresting castles thresh
In fullgrown thickness every May.
Last year is dead, they seem to say,
Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

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Please be kind to each other while you can.