Wednesday 27 March 2013

Songs of Spring

What a difference a few days can make! Just last week, as I shivered in my fleece sweater and listened to the thrumming of the furnace, I wondered if the chill winds and endless rains would ever leave us. And then suddenly spring arrived. It's like some cosmic switch got flipped and the seasons changed over night. As I write this I'm sitting outside in my shirt sleeves enjoying the sunshine. My old dog is warming her arthritic bones nearby, as is my crotchety senior cat. We're making the most of it and soaking up some much appreciated rays. My favourite season has arrived, filled with promise.
Steller's Jay
Spotted Towhee

The birds are rejoicing too! At this moment I can hear a sparrow's sweet call, the rough voice of a Steller's jay, the cawing of a crow, and what I think is the twittering of a flock of bush tits making their rounds, all of this over the steady drone of suburban lawn mowers, the voices of playing children, and the distant din of air planes and automobile traffic. During the past few days of warmer weather, the birds have emerged in abundance and are making their presence known.

Black-capped Chickadee

On any given morning on my dawdling walk to the local park with my slow-poke dog, I see juncos, chickadees, various types of sparrows, Steller's jays, flickers, towhees, the ever-present starlings, and on my neighbourhood's weekly garbage day there are always numerous crows and sea gulls scoping out any unsecured trash containers. One morning, high above me I made out a flock of swans heading north. I saw a pair of house wrens on a fence and a couple of finches flitted by. And on yet another morning recently, as I observed the antics of a pair of courting Steller's jays, a bald eagle soared overhead. But perhaps best of all, there are robins... lots and lots of robins!

American Robin
Over the past couple of years, I had become increasingly concerned that this iconic bird, once so common here, was in trouble. There was a handful of them around but their numbers seemed drastically reduced. One of my favourite childhood summer memories was waking up to the sound of chirping robins whose "cheer up, cheer up, cheerily cheer up" warble would be heard again later, with slight variation, as each day drew to a close. I missed that sound deeply. Perhaps difficult spring weather conditions here over the past couple of years affected their numbers or there was some problem in their wintering grounds. Happily this spring the robins have returned to my area in abundance. I am both delighted and relieved.

Each morning I'm once again waking up to the robins' lively song. I also hear the redwinged blackbirds in the nearby golf course and the gabbling of Canada geese. Last night, through the open window which ushered in fresh spring air, I made out the rapid-fire "hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo-hoo" of a pygmy owl - a male advertising his presence to any nearby females - above the trilling of frogs who were also busy vocalizing their own spring songs.

I continue to be astounded at the resilience of birds. Despite habitat loss, human encroachment, pollution and other modern-day problems, so many species are able to adapt. I regularly see nuthatches at my bird feeder, not to mention what I consider to be shy forest birds, the Pileated woodpeckers. To be able to gaze out of the window of my simple home in an unremarkable suburban neighbourhod and watch these adaptable wild creatures gives me joy and nourishes my artistic soul.

A nuthatch at my bird feeder.
Bookends! Two pilieated woodpeckers on the tree in
my front yard.

A trio of small drawings of nuthatches.

To top it off, what did I happen to see during a walk at my favourite park yesterday? My first trillium of the year - a sure sign that spring is well and truly here. Not only are the birds singing, my heart is too. And I feel some new artwork coming on!

My drawing of a much-loved spring flower - a trillium -
complete with a ladybug.


Written with condolences to the other parts of Canada where elusive spring is still keeping its distance.

No comments:

Post a Comment