Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Rana sylvatica has started to call

Rana sylvatica, the wood frog, started to call this evening from the garden pond. Last year I made recordings of the calling, and I'll try to post one later. This species is very cold tolerant: I've seen them walking on frozen ground. I have not yet heard peepers this year. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The robins did it...

On February 2 of this year, the heavy snow had started to pull back a bit and under shrubs and near walls bare spots appeared. When I looked out the front door that day I noticed that something had scattered dead leaves on the sidewalk. It wasn't hard to figure out who the culprits were: they were still at work around the yard: a flock of robins had flown in and they were busy scratching up bare spots in search of food. I suspect these early arrivals are on their way north: a few days after their visit, the number of robins in the yard seemed to drop suddenly.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Hylocichla mustelina The suburban ornithoscopist, no. 2: wood thrush

The suburban ornithoscopist
Under the title given above I’ll be posting some of the interesting, brief natural history videos Wayne has made. Most of these will be videos of birds. These posts will be numbered and marked “video: W. Crist;  text: J. McKenney”.
Hylocicla mustelina The suburban ornithoscopist, No. 2 wood thrush
Video No. 2 was made on May 23, 2015 in Waverly-Schuylkill Park about two blocks from my home. 
The song of this bird, which sometimes reproduces to an uncanny degree of accuracy the timbre of a flute, is one of the most easily recognized and highly esteemed songs of any native bird.

Each year recently Wayne and I have tried to pay attention to the last date on which we have heard a wood thrush. This neighborhood is thick with wood thrushes; I sleep with my windows open, and during the season hear them daily until the first week of August. This year, Wayne heard one on August 6: that’s the latest date we have records of their singing here. What’s the significance of that? Does it mean that all of the wood thrushes have left the area for the year? Does it mean they are out there but not singing? Does it mean that the ones we hear in late July are migrants from farther north, and that our local wood thrushes left before that? I don’t know the answers to any of these questions.  But I do know that once they quiet down for the year,  it will be another eight months before we hear them again. 

The suburban ornithoscopist, No. 1 is here: