Tuesday, 25 March 2014

The First Birds of Spring, and Moas

Most years the first red-winged blackbirds show up by the end of March around here.  Usually there is open water at the edge of swamps, ponds, streams.  Many times we've driven in the country and heard the birds' distinctive call as they perched on cattails standing high above frigid water.

Not this year, I'm sure.  Too much snow and ice to encourage the first northern explorers finding a place to pause in their search for good nesting.  Even though the days are longer and the sun is higher in the sky, much of the tasty things that birds want to eat are still covered up.

The New York Times has  an intersting little article today about the wintering habits of robins.  Not surprisingly, studies have shown that food and the absence of snow cover makes a difference in whether they winter-over in an area.  I haven't noted the usual arrival time for the first robin here, but it's clear that this year it will be awhile. 

What this unusual winter means in the great scheme of things is unclear, except that it's probably linked to erratic weather patterns brought on by climate change.  Lest we be lulled into thinking that our actions really don't have that much effect on our feathered friend, though, check out another NTY story, this one definitively linking the extinction of the moa in New Zealand to the arrival of humans. 

1 comment:

ray johns said...

I do think that birds can be our salvation. As a merchant seaman, I spend long periods at sea and I can attest to how much we can learn from birds in the wild expanses of our oceans. Even our feathered, second cousins are reaching the limits of their amazing powers of adaptation to the rapid carbon-induced climate changes of our planet.