Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Phenology: Spring Birds Return

On the way to the computer center I saw two robins, an oriole...and a mockingbird.

Forget about identifying birds by their songs if you've seen a mockingbird. Mimus polyglottos are too clever. They actually seem to enjoy making other birds, and humans, look. I believe they have a sense of humor, but no sense of when they're being tiresome. During a periodical cicada year I've seen a mockingbird perch beside other songbirds and make a noise like a cicada; my mother used to know one that liked to imitate a mildly demented patient's cell phone and watch through the window as the humans bustled about the house, looking for the phone. And one year, possibly guessing that he was being timed and trying to beat his own record, a mockingbird who lived near me in Maryland went through a repertoire of all the bird songs he might have heard in the neighborhood, some he might have heard during his winter vacations in Florida, and a few he might have made up on his own, that lasted for more than two minutes without a break.

Temperatures have been in the fifties and sixties. The water table is still high; lots of temporary ponds have formed wherever there's a dent in a hillside, and all of them, so far as I can tell, are full of spring peepers, all of whom are celebrating the March Thaw enthusiastically.