This winter has been very mild here in Massachusetts. No snow on the ground. Our only measurable snow came in late October. Mild temps have kept this area in a perpetual early spring like pattern.
I love watching birds and have noticed patterns of their appearances, in my backyard, over many years. January 25th has been the day when I started hearing, what I call, the Northern Cardinal Spring Song for the last 3 winters. It was so very predictable that I felt as though I had stumbled upon a Natural timing that most were unaware of. This year,I have yet to hear it.
It is February 7th, 2012. Other birds are singing but the predictors of the approaching of Spring, are silent.
I have 2 theories about this unusual event.
1. It may just be that food sources are so easily found this year that the cardinals are more wide-spread. My own bird feeder has needed few refills. I have therefore spotted fewer cardinals stopping for my ready meal.
2. The weather somehow has had a confusing effect on the timing of the Northern Cardinal’s courting. They may well know that winter is on its way with a vengeance.
Whatever the reason, I have enjoyed the balmy weather, this year, but have felt a bit lonesome for the Northern Cardinals serenades the past few weeks. They will sound all the sweeter when they do.
PS. After searching for the best video to add to this post, I learned how diverse the cardinal songs can be. Wow! I know ours by heart and feel privileged to know my local avian friends on that level.
The Spring before last I received a call for help from my sister one evening.
“There’s a huge turtle in my backyard. I don’t know what kind it is and I don’t know what to do with it. I’m afraid to let the dog out because it might bite him.”
“Does it have a really large head and long neck?”
“Does it have a leathery shell with a jagged back-end?”
“Don’t touch it. It’s a snapping turtle. I’ll be right over.”
Five minutes later, I was at Donna’s house. A rather large female Snapping Turtle was wedged up next to the foundation. Beyond Donna’s house was a very busy street. Twenty yards and “Mama Turtle” would be soup.
My ego was swollen at this point. Our family’s “creative one” was also an aspiring naturalist.
“She’s looking for a place to lay her eggs. We’ve got to get her over your back bank and down toward the river.”
After awhile we had directed her back to the woods. The only daring moment came when I needed to initially pull her away from the foundation by the tail. Don’t try this at home kids!
Snapping turtles can lunge the whole length of their body, including their tail. They are surprisingly quick! That mama turtle was remarkably even-tempered for her kind. I still handled her with great respect. Those years, I spent catching them at our camp at the lake, had given me experience.
It was a fun rescue but I’m not sure if it was my sister, her dog or the turtle who was rescued.
A few weeks later, I witnessed a local animal control officer dancing around a snapping turtle beside the road. I rolled down my window as I inched along and shouted,”Grab her by the tail!”
He answered, with a disgusted look on his face,never taking his eyes off of the hissing reptile, “I’M TRYING!”