Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010

Atop Hawk Mountain, Pa., 2010
Photo by R.E. Berg-Andersson

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dazed and Confused

In my part of the U.S., it was 70 degrees F at Christmas 2015. Everyone loved it, except people like me who knew that being warmer in New Jersey than it was in Daytona, Fla., was not normal.

snow from another year (Margo D. Beller)
Today, on the first day of Spring 2016, I write as it is 35 degrees outside, cloudy, snow and a nor'easter off the coast and the house heat on. I wear fingerless gloves as I type.

 I could go on about this abnormal weather and global warming and such, but right now I am wondering about the birds.

When we had warmer than usual temperatures last week, I saw many reports of first migrants arriving - phoebes, pine warblers, redwinged blackbirds. (I have seen two out of three; no pine warblers.) There were lots of bugs and the flowers were opening. Forsythia, daffodils. The iris is starting to grow, the crocus and snowdrops are finished. Magnolias and cherry trees have started flowering. The garden stores have started selling fruit trees and pansies for the color deprived and early vegetables for those itching to start their plots.

I would hope these store plants have been covered because the cold must be a shock to the system.

pine warbler (Margo D. Beller)
Same with the birds. They came up on southwestern winds and found a feast of bugs (aside from my feeders - I rarely get migrants at the feeders for some reason). Now they have come face to face with a cold front. What do they do? Turn around and head south again? Head north and hope for the best? Die?

I don't know the answers. I do know the yardbirds have been visiting the feeders a lot, and they've been singing territorial songs. With the clock now set ahead an hour, it is just light when I rise. Outside I can hear singing song sparrows, titmice, cardinals and American and fish crows. But these are not the migrants.

We birders can only hope that when the warm weather returns, so will the migratory birds.