BIRD WATCH: The sounds of spring provide backyard bliss

THIS IS THE time of the year when those words from a song in “Oklahoma” come to mind: “Spring is busting out all over.”

You can hear it almost everywhere, but especially in our own backyards.

There are many new voices adding to the audio-energy that arrives on wings, all sorts of different wings.

The voices of migrants contain a sense of excitement.

Swallows, warblers and flycatchers appear to be happy they have reached the end of their long journey.

When they find what they were expecting to find, or spot some welcome changes, they tell the world about it.

The “colorless trill” of the orange-crowned warbler stood out when I first heard it this month.

This has been the first warbler of spring for decades.

Winter is banished when the orange-crown is calling from the trees and bushes.

Purple martins arrived in April, some in late March, but with the arrival of spring, they get serious about raising a family.

They can be heard nonstop in the skies overhead.

The nesting colony near my house makes it clear they rule the skies.

Both males and the females are in residence and now the serious work begins.

Who gets which nesting gourd is part of the takeover of nesting sites mounted on the dock’s pilings.

It won’t take them long to construct their nests.

This amounts to some quickly tossed together sticks and not much else.

Purple martin young are hatched in pretty severe surroundings.

A new voice calling from the bushes in the backyard was heard this past week.

“Che-che-che-chet!” announced the Wilson’s warbler, one of the migrants blown in by the breezes.

This bright yellow bird with the black cap calls from blackberry tangles, willow thickets and deciduous trees.

The bug population is hit hard when warblers like this one begin gleaning microscopic insects from our yard’s prized plants.

It’s no secret that a large portion of my backyard is smothered with various trees and thick bushes.

I like it this way even though it sometimes seems to threaten a take-over when I’m not looking.

One wisteria vine has reached the top of a dogwood tree and dozens of blossoms not only cover the tree, the plant’s tendrils reach for the wild rhodies, hawthorn trees and huckleberry bushes.

It has no intention of limiting its growth pattern.

The birds love this tangle of color.

Every May, the Pacific-slope flycatcher calls from the dense growth.

The fact that the manmade waterfall and stream are part of the set up makes it impossible for these insect-eaters to ignore.

Not all of the new voices adding life to the yard are those of returning migrants.

Young birds are beginning to explore their new world.

Their sudden appearance in areas where you aren’t expecting them makes for some interesting encounters.

I think it’s early for the juncos to be introducing their youngsters to the yard, but the decision wasn’t mine to make.

These young birds are like all small children.

They don’t watch where they are going or what they are getting into.

This makes for some very distraught parents and some of their distress is human-caused.

A junco in the cherry tree and one in the beauty bush were calling that “tsk, tsk, tsk” sound.

That scold tells the young that, “man is in the forest.”

It also tells me I should vacate the area before the dog discovers there are young birds about.

You never know when one might just shoot out of the bushes and almost under your feet.

This is the best time of the year and every day seems to hold a new surprise or two.

It makes working in the yard and pulling weeds so much easier.

Especially when you take time to listen and sort out who is calling.


Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: joanpcarson

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