While I am waiting for the waterfowl to migrate through (April is supposed to be the best month for them around here) and earnestly hoping for some really interesting ones to land in the backyard, I am appreciating the other signs of spring that are flitting about.
The bluebird is sitting on a branch of the snag I mentioned in an earlier post, but the cardinal has chosen a living tree for his perch. He appears to be the mate for “shes-no-einstein” female that keeps knocking at our windows.
This picture is from our home and habitat in Virginia. Although I’m happy with my move overall, I invested a lot of time and emotional energy in creating a habitat there, and it was hard to leave it behind. In addition, we have a sentimental attachment to this plant. Our pussywillow was rooted from one which my husband rooted as an elementary school project, then planted in his parents’ backyard. We took a cutting from it and after several attempts, successfully rooted in in Virginia. I’m still trying to restart it here in Michigan.
Pussywillows are a member of the willow family. They thrive in wet soil and in soil with lots of clay and/or poor drainage (In Virginia, we had a high water table, being on the edge of the flood plain, and lots of clay). They are nonetheless drought resistant and hardy to zone 2.
The catkins appear in mid-to-late February, an early sign of spring, and provide early season food for migrating songbirds as well as resident birds and small mammals.
I’m looking forward to the day that the next generation of this plant successfully puts down roots in Michigan.
We have a dead tree in our backyard, right on the edge of the wetland. It’s been there for at least 10 years, as long as the house has, because our next-door neighbor mentioned once that he had wanted to take it down when he moved in but his wife reminded him that it wasn’t on their property. The previous owners of our house apparently liked the tree as well as I do, because they left it in place for the entire time they lived here.
It’s a great perch for hawks and other birds to survey the surroundings, and it draws woodpeckers on a regular basis. I’m particular fond of woodpeckers, and feed them peanuts all winter. It’s nice to have a natural source of food nearby to keep their interest over the summer. I had always wanted to have a snag in the yard in Virginia, but in that dense, semiurban environment, it wasn’t practical. Here, it fits right in.
My little friend, pictured here, was repeatedly perching on the window sill and trying to tap her way into the house.
Unfortunately, she moved from this window to the front of the house where she could get up more momentum. To stop her repeated flying into the window, we bought a balloon and tied the string to the window sill. It moves around when the furnace comes on, and I guess it looks human enough to discourage her hanging around that window. I hope she doesn’t decide to try another one. I don’t want her to hurt herself, but I also don’t want a housefull of balloons.
If my next post is titled “the balloons are coming, the balloons are coming” you’ll know what happened. When it comes down to the decision, I care more about cardinals than I do about interior decorating.
My outdoor photography plans for the weekend are on hold until it gets a little warmer and last night’s snow melts. Yes, major bummer, springophiles – so go look at Wayne’s photos of daffodils instead if you need a warm-weather fix.
The one advantage of the snow is that birds come to the feeders – already this morning I’ve seen finches, blue jays, starlings, doves, a red-bellied woodpecker, and a pair of cardinals.
The cardinals are interesting – the female repeatedly flies over to the outside window sill and tries to come in. It’s not like she’s crashing into the window, it seems very deliberate perching on the sill. She’s done this about 20 times in a row now.
It was doomed from the start. A hand-held zoom lens in the rain at dusk from the deck didn’t have a chance. But I had to try – it was the first great blue heron of the spring, just standing out back.
And now I have something special to anticipate. According to Cindy,
And if you REALLY want to be entertained, find a craft store that sells small white feathers- take them out in the field with you where Tree Swallows are numerous and hold them out so they’re visible to the birds. They’ll pick them up right from your hand. They’ll often fight over them, as white feathers are a favorite nesting material.
Our swallows haven’t returned yet, but I am sure going out to buy white feathers this weekend.