Photo by Corey Husic

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Phenology Note: March 27, 2011

Over the past few days, several bird species have arrived in this region or are beginning to move through.  Between now and the beginning of June, thousands of birds will arrive in this region, either searching for a breeding location or passing through on a journey northward to the summer breeding locations.

Eastern Phoebes are the first flycatchers to arrive in the spring.  Although scarce this early in the season, phoebes will become very common by summer.

  Like the phoebes, Tree Swallows have been popping up across the region in the last week.  This male was the first to arrive in Kunkletown, Monroe County this year.  Early "scouts" like this bird, often males, search for potential breeding locations before the majority of the swallows return.

Sure signs of spring are the large flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles that form in early March.  A few weeks after the large flocks, groups of blackbirds such as Rusty Blackbirds (like the one pictured above) begin to form small groups and migrate north.

Rusty Blackbird in flight

American Robins are often said to be a "sign of spring."  Contrary to this common belief, robins are found all year long in most parts of Pennsylvania.  A more accurate sign of spring might be when the robins begin to group up and fly over at night and around dawn.  After sunrise, these flocks often rest and feed in lawns, wet fields, and other open environments.

While many plants such as Skunk Cabbage and Coltsfoot have had flowers for weeks, until this week, these plants seemed to be "stuck" in this phase.  However, several plant species are now starting to grow once again and produce leaves and flowers.

 Previous posts in this blog have showed the enlarging buds of Red Maple trees.  Today, the first buds "burst" and parts of the flower can now be seen.

The odd flowers of Skunk Cabbage (left) are beginning to die, but the leaves (right) are starting to emerge from the damp ground.

The early leaves of this woodland violet can be seen poking through the wet ground near a wooded spring.

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