Saturday, March 31, 2018

Early Birds - Bringing the Mountains Back to Life

Early Birds

After a long, dark winter, the mud season is upon us and the bleak landscape is taking on a more encouraging atmosphere. Elk are on the move and our feathered friends are beginning to make their presence known.

The predictable arrival time of some of our most common birds is a trustworthy indicator of the upcoming seasonal transition. The availability of fresh water seems to coincide with the appearance of these early birds.

The first to show are male red-winged blackbirds as they begin establishing territory at the local wetlands in February. Dressed in formal black with a red and yellow wing patch, their familiar call breaks winter’s long silence.

The robin’s evening song betrays his presence as these surprisingly hearty birds seem to tolerate early spring’s cold and snow as well as anyone. They spend most of their day hunting for insects in the dried meadow grasses.

Canada geese come next as they arrive in pairs and land on the lake’s shimmering surface. They float about the ice-cold water with ease, creating picturesque reflections that are shattered by wind-driven waves.

By mid-March, mountain bluebirds burst onto the scene as they suddenly occur in droves and takeover the foothill’s grasslands. This time of year, during the breeding season, their blue coloring is so saturated it seems unreal.

Just the other day, we saw a few mallard ducks peddling cautiously across the pond as they seemed uneasy in new surroundings. The male was particularly striking with his green head sparkling iridescently.

There are many more species on the way as we’re expecting to see flickers, finches, sparrows and meadowlarks very soon. It’s an exciting time of year with flashes of color and continual chirping gradually bringing the dormant mountains back to life.

An encouraging atmosphere

Elk are on the move

Red-winged blackbirds show up first

Robins are surprisingly hearty

Shattered reflections

Bluebirds take over the foothills

The blue coloring is unreal

Mallard Duck

An exciting time of year

The mountains are coming back to life

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