The Keystone State marks the beginning of spring according to the antics of a big fat ground hog named Punxsutawney Phil, the OKC Zoo with a Grizzly Bear’s behavior, and in Ohio it’s the return of the buzzards. Some folks in Oklahoma mark spring with the first tornado warning, but on the reddirt hill we call spring official with the nesting of the bluebirds.
Photos by L. Dillon. Click to enlarge.
I just captured this shot of Daddy II with some grass in his mouth. But, he isn’t building a nest. He will take a piece of grass and go in and out of the box with it. I saw my dearly departed Daddy do the same thing. I believe this is courtship behavior. It appears that the male is communicating to the female that it’s that time of year. My current bluebirds are young and have not nested yet, but the female did all the nest building for my previous pair. She would take a piece of grass in and weave that intricate little deep-cupped nest and line it with softer material. Every time she would take a piece in, Daddy would fly to the hole and stick his head in as if to check her progress. It will be interesting to see if these birds mimic their behavior.
We still have lots of House Finches and goldfinches in the back yard daily. The males are getting their breeding colors and looking good. The goldfinches stay here long enough for us to see them in their brilliant yellow summer plumage and then leave. Some of the House Finches hang around all year. We had two pair nest in junipers last year. Yesterday I saw an Eastern Phoebe on the creek. First one I’ve seen in a few months. They are among the last birds to head south here and one of the first to return. I got a report of a couple of Purple Martins in the Tulsa area yesterday. It is really early for them. There are almost no flying insects this time of year.
I love all the seasons, but spring is special to a naturalist. It’s the season of renewal for all of nature. But, spring is also a season of conflict. Winter doesn’t relinquish her grip on the plains easily. It’s warm and sunny today with a short-lived blizzard in the forecast for tonight. Samuel Clemens lived on the Big Muddy, but I am reminded of one of his witty quotes.
“In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours. ”
Makes me wonder if Sam spent some time in Oklahoma.
See more photos of my bluebirds on my flickrstream http://www.flickr.com/photos/reddirtpics/
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