by Doctor Science
It's really been Spring here for the past week. I kind of melted down from medication-, Tax-, and Seder-related exhaustion last Monday, but within the last few days I've really perked up. And so has my yard!
We have Goldfinches that come to the feeder all winter, but within the past few days some of the males have put on their summer colors:
I enhanced the colors slightly, to make the photo look more like my perception.
Lower down in the Crabapple tree we've put up a birdhouse with a very small opening, sized for chickadees or wrens. The Chickadees found it last week:
I saw some conflict around the birdhouse on Saturday, I think because we put it up in the Crabapple tree. During the bird feeder season this tree is Neutral Territory, used by birds of all sizes and species to wait for a spot at the feeder, or to eat seeds they've taken from it. But clearly the Chickadees that have started to move into the house are going to consider the tree the heart of their territory, and aren't going to be cool with other Chickadee interlopers.
Then on Sunday, as the Chickadees were fussing back and forth over the house, a House Wren showed up and aggressively took over. He hopped inside and started tossing out nest materials, so I figured the nest box was his, now. House Wrens are actually significant predators on other cavity-nesting birds, like Chickadees and Bluebirds.
But today (Monday), the House Wren wasn't around, and the Chickadees were back at the birdhouse, as in the picture above. I haven't heard House Wren singing on our property, but the Carolina Wren who was at the feeder all winter has attracted a mate, and there's been extremely loud singing going on around the human house all week.
At our old house (not far from where we are now), we had both Carolina and House Wrens nesting on the property. Their territories didn't overlap: the Carolina Wrens had the front yard and associated woods and brush (including the garage, where they nested for several years), while the House Wren had the back yard and woods. We'll see what happens here, but I suspect that the presence of the Carolina Wrens may have persuaded the House Wren to go elsewhere.
Also in the past week, Chipping Sparrows have returned and started singing.
I've seen the Eastern Phoebe, but haven't heard any singing yet -- and in the fall we ripped the English Ivy off our house, where she'd been nesting.
The House Finches are singing great guns, but I haven't seen any nesting so far -- they like to nest on Mr Dr Science's office, over the door or on top of the AC unit.
As for plants, last week was bloom-time for the wild Bloodroot in our yard:
Yesterday I saw the first flowers on the Wood Geranium, and the Creeping Phlox is in bud.
The Narcissus bulbs I planted in the fall have come up and mostly flowered:
The variety is rather bewildering. Should I try to figure out which ones are which, and which I like best? Or just say, it's a learning experience every spring, as every spring itself is?
1. Male House Wrens are responsible for selecting nest sites and starting to build a nest. Once he's done that, he'll start to sing (very loudly) to attract a female. When she shows up, he escorts her to his nest sites, then waits (literally trembling with excitement, I've seen them do it) while she inspects them. If she likes what she sees, she moves in to the hole or nest box she chooses, and he fills the others with sticks to make unusable "dummy" nests.