Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bog suckers and timber doodles

One bird that can’t be overlooked and is here now and just starting to display around the preserve is the American Woodcock. This “mysterious hermit of the alders”, ”timber doodle” or “bog sucker” winters in southern US and comes back early March to get to its breeding grounds here. It then begins one of the strangest breeding displays in the bird-world. Shortly after evening sets it stakes out a flat area of open ground marches around in circles with a pitifully small tail spread and long bill towards the ground resting on his chest calling “peent” “peent” “peent” over and over again almost all night. This march is only interrupted every now and then by a valiant flight circling around and around the parade grounds, circling higher and higher up into the air 200 to 300 feet high. While doing this the wind whistles through the specially modified outer three feathers of his wings and sounds as if he is twittering constantly. Then he begins to dive back down calling “chicharee, chicharee, chicaree” zig-zagging then finally to the ground right where he started or directly onto the back of a receptive female. Then back to “peent, peent, peent”. If you are careful you can run over to the place he takes off while he is flying and wait there without moving and many times he will land again, right at your feet.

The two photos of American Woodcocks are by Richard McCarty the one on the left is an adult on the nest and the one on the right is just a young one.

Friday, March 12, 2010

More Signs of Spring

Enjoy these photos, taken just this morning, of more signs of spring around the county. Wood frogs are singing, (along with spring peepers), spotted sallamanders are breeding, and spiders are weaving.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring is Sprung

Skunk Cabbage? Check
American Woodcock? Check
Red-winged Blackbird? Check
Grackles? Check
Eastern Phoebe? Check

Other signs of spring: Northern Mockingbirds are displaying for mates; Red-tailed Hawks have been observed carrying sticks for nests; Jefferson's salamanders have laid eggs in at least one vernal pool on the Preserve; Carolina Wrens are investigating nest boxes and advertising by singing; Oh, and the temperature today will be 60 degrees! Hooray!

Enjoy the sunshine, everyone.