Spring is here!
It seemed as if all the birds migrating north this Spring had arrived at our house at the same time. There were hundreds of them. If you are a student of nature and how animals communicate, you have learned that all animals use fairly recognizable calls to signal each other about food, prey, danger, predators, mating readiness, caution, alarm, territory, etc. But this was something different. Although I am familiar with many of the distinctly different types of calls, this was a cacophony of all sorts of calls that were just a wall of sound in the trees around us. It was like being in a crowded cocktail party hall with everyone talking excitedly at once. I was having a hard time distinguishing who was present in the din. We had never experienced this deluge of bird calls before. (We are planning a future post about the newest knowledge of just how nuanced and detailed these calls are.)
As our technologies and experimental abilities have improved so much in recent years, scientists are discovering that very specific information is being shared not only within a flock of one species, but also eavesdropped and responded to by other species, and even by animals in different orders.
We’ve done this by creating water resources, cover, plants, nesting habitats and ‘edge effect’ areas. If you’d like to encourage wildlife to use your property, planting appropriate habitats and food plants is one way of doing it. Using native varieties to your area will ensure hardiness and usefulness for your native animals.
The Audubon Society provides you with a tool to bring more birds to your home with native plants: https://www.audubon.org/native-plants. You can enter your zip code and filter your results by types of plants (grasses, succulents, shrubs, trees, etc.) , the food resource (nectar, fruits, seeds, etc.) or the types of birds you would like to attract. You can even order plants from the website if your garden center doesn’t provide them.
One hardy spring bush we planted covers whole sections in its bright yellow Spring color, the forsythia. I think everybody likes them, because they give us the wonderful yellow in the spring and then change into the summer green.
The sunshine and the warmer temperatures kiss the trees to wake up, and then you see this amazing blush in green, yellow and red on the trees up the hill and around the house. If one of those trees stand near a pine tree, the “blush” is very intense in the contrast.
My ‘locals’ of course are somewhat more recognizable. The individuals that ‘summer’ on our property, do not ‘display’ and ‘alarm’ like transients do. Robins, Grosbeaks, Sparrows, Chickadees, Finches and others, that were here before and became used to us (and our now much older and less threatening cat), will not react with alarm calls and tail pumping and nervous jumps to higher branches like the transients do. They’ve established their breeding territories on our property, know and recognize us and stay closer as we approach. If you look out and see a half dozen Robins on the lawn, and only four fly away when you step out, but two stay down and eyeball you, then those two probably raised a brood here last year. They recognize that you are not a threat.
There is a richness in the returning of life in the Spring. Myriad things open, grow and return. So, if you pay close attention, you may even recognize a returning companion from last year, which is all the richer, because they returned.