What's that you sing? It's Spring?!

It is that time of year! Noticeably, the days are beginning to warm and the sun is casting its light a little longer with each day. If you look and listen closely, you will notice pops of color from dormant flowers beginning to bloom, the birds have started singing, spring is here!

Image 1. Ruby Crowned Kinglet. Photo by Paul Higgins. 

After months of quiet skies, the Oregon juncos’ song will make your heart skip a beat. Many of the birds in our forest do not migrate, but their songs are silenced during the cold winter months.  I like to believe they are saving up their vocal chord strength for their spring song, when the males are in full singing form to attract their mate! Since the Oregon junco does not leave our forest in the winter, they are the first species to declare that spring is near. When the days get longer, they know it is time to find a mate, so they open their throat and let their trilly-song come through, and each time I hear it, I cannot help but smile. 

Image 2. Oregon Junco. Photo by: Sandy Stewart.

The courtship behaviors that birds enlist to entice a mate come in a variety of forms, which allow other birds to make judgments on their health and strength – how beautiful is their song? Are their feathers as bright, if not brighter, then a bird of the same species? Will they provide food for my offspring? Can they build a nest? Some species will even ask, how well can this potential mate dance? –these questions are inherent in a bird’s choice in a mate. They want to be sure they are choosing the best, so that their offspring can survive their first year and continue to thrive throughout its’ life.

Image result for american robin
Image 3. American Robin. Photo by: Doug Brown.

The world is filling up with bird songs. The American robins’ rich, drawn out notes that one can recognize as a phonetic text of “cheer-up, cheerily, cheer-up, cheerio” who I always hear as the first singer in the morning and the last in the evening. The Ruby-crowned Kinglets high-pitched “liberty-liberty-liberty” the mountain chickadees recognizable “cheeseburger” or my favorite, who I heard calling from a distance and was able to spot on the trail this past week, the Nashville warbler, whose yellow belly and blue-gray cap one cannot miss. If you can find time to spend outdoors, turn your ears and eyes to the sky, you will not be disappointed!

Image 4. Nashville Warbler. Photo by: Mike Danzenbaker.

Photo credit:
Ruby-crowned Kinglet photo: http://www.utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdsL-R/RubyCrownedKinglet3.htm
Oregon Junco photo: http://www.thespruce.com/pictures-of-juncos-4121961
American Robin Photo: https://identify.whatbird.com/obj/212/overview/American_Robin.aspx
Nashville Warbler Photo: http://avesphoto.com/website/na/species/WARNAS-1.htm


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