Warm weather, melting snow and ice and now the singing of the winter-resident birds, is must mean spring is just around the corner. A Horned-Lark gave a beautiful recitail at the Salt Creek WMA while Tundra Swans and various other waterfowl honked, quacked hissed in the background. While these sounds can be heard throughout winter, why is the Lark and for that matter Robins, Chickadees and Golfinch cranking up the volume? Apparently changing light, has a hormonal trigger, and that starts the birdsong, andsinging of the winter-resident birds is among the first signs that spring is around the corner. Birds have photoreceptors in the bases of their brains that record the length of the dark period each day. As the darkness shortens, and as days lengthen, birds get spring fever. The photoperiod is very standard from year to year. Days lengthen at a regular pace. Therefor, using the photoperiod to gauge the season is more reliable than, say, following cues such as an emergence of insects or a freshly sprouting plant, which could easily be fooled by a midwinter warm spell. The first birds to sing of the pending arrival of spring are the same birds that never left for the winter. We still have month to go before winter officially turns to spring, but we can enjoy the dawn chorus and sweet singing throughout the day regardless of snow, rain or sunshine.
Horned LarkSinging at Salt Creek.
Tundra SwanWe recorded over 700 individuals at Bear River MBR. Bear River WarningFortunately the road had recently been scrapped.