Celebrating the Arrival of Spring

April 24th, 2023

It has started off as a cooler spring and our wildflowers are just beginning to bloom and the neotropical migrant birds have arrived to nest in our area. The colors are a welcome relief from the drab browns of winter. So many shades of green, and now there are pink, yellow, and all the colors of the rainbow of flowering plants beginning to bloom. Masses of white Trillium albidum are still going strong in the woodlands along with Viola glabella and Thalictrum fendleri. Several species of buttercups, purple camas (Camassia quamash) and both the common and threatened meadowfoam species, Limnanthes douglasii and Limnanthes bakeri respectively, are beginning to bloom out in the wet meadows.

For me the most significant change this week is the number of birds singing in the morning. The springtime bird cacophony has begun. This usually peaks in mid-May but will continue until mid-June. I find myself awake at the crack of dawn so I can experience the birds singing ‘up’ the sun, as many legends state. There are two springtime phenomenon you absolutely do not want to miss. One is beholding an enormous number of blooming wildflowers that create a carpet of color. The other is the springtime chorus of birds proclaiming their territories as well as their attractiveness to the females.

In the riparian corridor along Broaddus Creek that joins Baechtel Creek and becomes Outlet Creek, the grand symphony of birdsong this morning was sung by Yellow-breasted Chats, Yellow Warblers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, a Northern Mockingbird, so many Song Sparrows, Wilson’s Warblers and Common Yellowthroats. There was also a variety of swallows singing all around our heads – Rough-winged Swallows, Cliff Swallows, and White-throated Swifts. To my delight Purple Martins have once again decided to nest in the viaduct right outside our office!  All of these birds contributed their individual vocals to the seemingly cohesive bird song symphony. Neotropical birds are generally colorful and sing beautifully. These birds migrate here from Central and South America to nest and reproduce. They stay about six to eight weeks before departing. As I am out walking around, everywhere I look, there they are, all those travelers who have winged their way here from faraway to raise young and then return to their homelands.

Their journeys are fraught with danger that includes severe weather, destruction and loss of habitat, pollution, collisions with buildings, and predators. It is a miracle they get here at all, yet here they are singing their hearts out.

Other creatures are in springtime mode, singing and displaying in their own way for their mates. Amphibians such as the Chorus tree frogs are heard croaking in the morning in concert with the bird chorus.

We also saw a group of six to seven large Jackrabbits cavorting in a pasture, running all over the place up and down the field. Chasing each other is probably a territorial display but as we got closer, they all scattered running crazily except one who thought it was a better idea to crouch motionless by a large perennial grass. It was so large that it was not well-hidden at all! The opportunity to get a good photo of this fast-moving Lagomorph was appreciated! I look forward to more spring joy to come as the days warm up and get longer.