Skip to main content

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:
Oregon Junco photo:
American Robin Photo:
Nashville Warbler Photo:


Popular posts from this blog

Wait, do bears really hibernate?! Waking up to the truth about winter's sleep

Imagine yourself going for a hike through the vast Emigrant Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. You stop to look out over a field covered in the first light snowfall of the year. You’re captured by its beauty. One snowflake falls on your nose, then two, then more cover your hair. It’s mid-November. A crisp breeze rolls over the field and makes you shiver. What would you do next? Being a smart hiker, you probably brought a warm cozy jacket. Maybe it’s fleece, and if you’re experienced in the wilderness, it’s probably waterproof. Now imagine yourself on this same field of freshly fallen snow, but instead of two feet in wool socks and hiking boots, you now have four large paws covered in dark brown fur. Your five claws are sharp from climbing trees to reach nuts, berries, and seeds. Your fur has thickened in the recent months. The snow is falling gently, covering your snout and ears. That same crisp breeze rolls across the field… but you hardly feel it. That 350 pounds you put on…

Give Plants a Chance: Erosion and Giant Sequoias

What is Erosion? Erosion is the gradual degradation (breaking down) of rock and other natural material, by wind, water, gravity, and even animals. Erosion happens all around us on hillsides, the edges of riverbeds, beaches, and cliff walls. It is an entirely natural and necessary process; erosion is responsible for the dispersion and recycling of rocks and minerals into sediment, which enriches soil and provides opportunities for new life to emerge!

          However, human induced erosion is not natural, nor beneficial to our local environment. Scientists have estimated that global rates of erosion have increased 10-40 times its natural rate, due to human influence and activity. If you are looking for signs of human induced erosion, it is particularly obvious alongside walking trails in parks and forests.

Every year, our Sierra Outdoor School Naturalists take hundreds of of students on field trips to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, aptly named for the beautiful Giant Sequoia …