Each morning starts for me with a walk at dawn with my two Labrador Retrievers. The walk goes about three miles through forests, fields, and a residential area. In the past week, the signs of spring have been slowly accumulating.
Last Wednesday, February 23, with the temperature a bone chilling 13 degrees produced a surprising sign -- Northern Cardinals singing on territories in the residential area. Monday at Lehigh Gap we saw three adult Bald Eagles along the Lehigh River, most likely northbound migrants. Yesterday, the high-flying flocks of Canada Geese with the vs pointed north were another sign. This morning, the birds gave me more cause for anticipation of warmer weather (in spite of the 19 degree temperature).
It was clear as the sun began to rise this morning and the birds were in full song. I heard many of our year-round residents in full song including Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, House Finch, Blue Jay, and Carolina Wren. One new sound was the "whinnying" call of several American Robins. But then as I walked along the farm lane, I heard an almost imperceptible sound at first, then the unmistakable "Conk-la-ree" songs of Red-winged Blackbirds spaced evenly around the fence rows surrounding the field I was walking through. When I reached the barn at the end of the lane, a handsome male Red-wing flew into a Butternut tree and sang his heart out.
As I returned home, one last bird gave me a clue to spring's proximity. Eastern Bluebirds, just two days ago appearing in my yard in a flock, with some singing, were today spread our in various places, seemingly dividing up into territories, with each one singing.