Robins, house finch, and lesser goldfinch singing with gusto! Dippers on the stream blasting their melodious notes from watery perches on Summit Creek. An eastern blue jay bops out to wish me good morning in a nearby Park, its rarity always a treat, instantly teleporting me back to earlier days in Michigan. Meadowlarks reveal their hearts in song in fields below as I work my way up a canyon ridge. A fox sparrow with ear shattering song competes for “America’s Got Talent”.
On another outing, three individuals walking ahead of me pause to locate loud hammering high in a dead cottonwood. A flicker woodpecker- our largest and loveliest of the woodpecker family, beats his head against the tree hoping to attract a lady!
Totally unaware of COVID-19, which has inverted our human worlds, the bird world is right on schedule with their spring business of propagating more bird song.
Thank goodness, my usual escape into local Canyons has not been disrupted. Early spring plants are there to greet me- glacier lily, spring beauty, violet. Many more will emerge in coming weeks. Over 30 species will be blooming from now to early June accompanied by as many species of birds and butterflies.
We take a Sunday drive through our valley wetlands where abundant waterfowl rest and feed- pintails, mallards, gadwells, Northern shovelers, American widgeon, cinnamon teal, and the ever-present and magnificent Canada geese. A pair of Sandhill Cranes emerges which will be populating our valley by the hundreds as spring progresses. Many will remain to nest and raise their colts.
Yes, these are tumultuous times- socially, economically, fear for our health. My usual spring activities have all but disappeared – travel, students, and direct contact with family members.
Spring is a transformation from winter’s death grip back to renewed life. This year I sense another transformation that gives me hope. Throngs of neighbors and others have invaded our canyons with kids, dogs, bikes, boards, horses, with joy in their hearts as they break free from COVOD’s bondage. Keeping the appropriate social distancing, their warm smiles and desire to chat reflect nature’s magic. Strangers become instantaneous friends. It’s reminiscent of my time in Europe where these outdoor activities are far more common. I sense a cultural shift.
Spring is here- my favorite season has returned filled with song, passion, Easter, and a rebirth of optimism- strong tonic for these difficult days. Our Earth Mother is being honored well before Earth Day!
Jack Greene for Brigerland Audubon and thank goodness for Utah Wilds!
Pictures: Courtesy US FWS, Dr Thomas G Barnes, Gary Kramer, Robert F. Burton, photographers
Contains Sound: Courtesy Kevin Colver
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon Society | Utah State University Sustainability
American Robin, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Robin/id
House Finch, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/House_Finch/id
Lesser Goldfinch, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lesser_Goldfinch/id