Archive for May, 2013

Engulfed by Spring!

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

A Baltimore oriole and an orchard oriole fight over grape jelly

Ahhh, spring!

Or sometimes it feels like ARRRGGGHH, spring! We like the season – but we’re exhausted from trying to enjoy all that’s happening.

Nature’s headlong rush to transition from a winter of rest and dormancy to a season of rebirth and change and life can be simply overwhelming. How can our senses absorb all the joys and wonders?

Snow geese

Singing cardinals in February alerted us to prepare for migrating geese in March.

Spring peeper

Then came the woodcock and bluebirds and turkey vultures and phoebes. Spring peepers peeped and chorus frogs sang. And we figured winter was over – until the foot of April-May snow that dumped on parts of Iowa.

Hepatica

Hepaticas and bloodroots and spring beauties burst into bloom as the forest floor gradually warmed. Purple violets and golden-yellow dandelions brightened the lawn, as well.

Talk about turkeys!

The turkeys seemed to be biding their time, until a calm, milder morning brought the whole flock out onto the hilltop for a post-dawn celebration of the mating season.

Prairie fire at dusk

The respite from the cool, wet weather dried out the prairie enough for the ritual of a spring burn. We left plenty of patches for the critters – but hoped the flames might stress the brome enough to give the bluestem and coneflowers a competitive edge.

A wave of migrating warblers – predominantly yellow-rumped and palm – homed in on the burned area, busily foraging for tiny insects. How intriguing to see warblers on the ground instead of high in the treetops!

Red-breasted nuthatch

It’s easy to lose track of the other avian arrivals and departures. The juncos go north, yet purple finches linger a bit longer. A red-breasted nuthatch puts in a brief appearance. Where was it all winter?

We don’t really welcome the cowbirds, however. They’re parasites, which lay their eggs in the nests of others. The young cowbirds then crowd out the babies of the birds that built the nest.

&*%$#@ Cowbird

Rose-breasted grosbeaks and flame-orange orioles arrived simultaneously with the greening of the first maples and gooseberries in the woods. We tempt them with dishes of grape jelly to bring them closer to the house. The sweet treat brings a non-stop oriole parade of squabbling orchards and Baltimores, male and female, adult and immature.

Greening woods

The colors just get more resplendent, as the serviceberries and wild plums and flowering crabs burst in to bloom. The bunting’s plumage defines the color “indigo.” There’s no prettier red than the scarlet tanager. And I still love the cottony-white of a thunderhead, tinted pink by the setting sun, against the deep blue of a stormy sky.

Thunderhead

Oh, it’s time for morels, too. But did you really think I would share THAT delight?