Sunday, May 01, 2011
Well there it is the whole world in a single picture. Of course it's not the whole world, but it is the whole world to a number of creatures that call this home. And it is the temporary home of those that pass through it sometime during the year. This picture has been placed here to show the renewed greens of a Spring that has been extremely wet. In fact, it is the wettest April on record here in Northern Ohio. Very close to the wettest month ever! The growth of Spring brings with it a renewed interest in all things alive for many of us. The smell of chlorophyll is again filling the air and the sounds of the birds has returned as well. I try to keep the feeders full, but the squirrels have been putting in overtime I think to get their fill. They tend to stop temporarily when the bigger birds alight. The crows chase them away as do the iridescent Grackles. I cannot walk by our back door or windows without straining to see what birds have visited this hour. Most are common visitors. Every now and again I am treated to a more unusual diner. Just last week I was getting ready to do some errands and glanced out the window to see an old friend. The Robin sized feeder was similar in color, but the placement of the rufous patch was all wrong and it was a darker black. I knew at once--the Rufous-Sided Towhee. Actually it is now called the Eastern Towhee. The "rufous" name was changed, but I still knew the bird. And that is what amazed me about this sighting. Though i did not keep records of bird sightings since my first course in ornithology at Kent State in 1971, I don't recall seeing a Towhee since then. Yet, when I spotted the Eastern/Rufous-sided Towhee this past week I knew at once what I was seeing. Somewhere in the maze of connections of neurons in my brain, the pathway that means Towhee was still active. Amazing!! Though my pathway said Rufous-sided Towhee and the guide books all say Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus ,)( http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/eastern_towhee/id) it was still connected, still active. I guess we do need to "Pay Ready Attention" as we wander through the woods and fields, streams and ponds. The connections are being made and archived for later use.
I recently bumped into a friend that has taken on the job of monitoring a rather large Eastern Bluebird nestbox trail in Geauga County. He is working hard at Paying Attention. He has noticed that the number of active nests and eggs laid are far the numbers he recorded last year. The prolonged cool, wet Spring temperatures have apparently impacted the birds as much as they have impacted the rest of us. Of course, as Jay said, the Bluebirds have been responding to weather changes for eons and they probably "know what to do" better than we know what they should be doing. So we watch, pay attention and interpret what we see. It makes wandering through Spring that much more fun.