Life on a family dairy farm
in the wilds of
Upstate New York
Thursday, February 23, 2012
The migration has begun. A Facebook friend out west heard sandhill cranes......
And while we were feeding last night, I was watching the sky as I always do, (once a sky watcher, always a sky watcher), and a flock of black birds surged by, intent, purposeful. Racing for the best nest sites somewhere other than here.
Grackles, first of the year. Mixed with smaller birds, probably brown-headed cow birds.
I was thrilled. Not that they are especially nice birds, but it gave me cold chills, like great music does. I went into the barn with my big fork full of hay, tense with a special excitement.
It may still be February but in just a few weeks the woodcock will be back, wings whistling his sky dance song in the horse pasture. The killdeers will scream frantically out on the hill. The spring peepers, (who used to be hyla crucifer but are now pseudacris crucifer just to confuse those of us who learn Latin names for the heck of it), will let out their first tenuous squeaks, then begin a vibrant chorus, then offer a deafening din from the swamps down on Corbin Hill Road to the south of us.
A little later the smaller brood over in the old horse pasture will tune up. I have to strain to hear them over the traffic, but it is worth every effort to know that their fingernail-sizes selves are singing near by.
To me spring is the most lovable of seasons, full of the joy of birth, newness, freshness, wonder and awe. Like the beginning of being in love when we want to share our new found happiness with everyone. This year it seems even more so...such a winter.....it is like climbing out from under a dark rock.
I know we still have weeks of winter left, but the first migratory birds are such a welcome and long-awaited delight. As I came in from the barn I paused, another thing I always do, and listened and wondered. What might be flying high overhead in the misty clouds shrouding the sky? I didn't hear anything, but the arrival of the grackles let me know that there could be almost anything up there just the same....except maybe sandhill cranes.
***I saw on a bird list I read that blue grosbeaks and hooded orioles have been seen in western NY in recent years. I am eagerly hoping for a chance to check off the former on my life list and having them show up in NY makes that seem much more possible than before. I'm excited about that too.