Jeff Green | May 12, 2005
Nature Reflections, April 21, 2005
Nature Reflections May 5, 2005LAND O' LAKES NewsWeb Home
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As the sun sinks in the western sky the bird songs that have been heard during the day change. It seems as if some of the birds have expended their energy and are becoming quiet as they settle in the trees and shrubs or on their nests to rest for the night. The Robin that woke with the dawn and sang a morning chorus will also sing an evening song, but gradually it too goes silent as darkness descends.
Thrushes and some other birds may also let their presence be known both at dawn and at dusk.
For still other birds the hours of dusk may be a time to spread the message that I am here - where are you? and for the American Woodcock this is the time to do its courtship display and song. First there is a peent while the bird is still on the ground, which may be repeated a number of times before it erupts into the air with whirring wings. If it is still light enough, the bird may be seen rising rapidly into the air, and then the sound of the wings diminishes and there is a soft twittering, which suddenly stills as the bird plummets back to the ground - then the peent will start again. Often there are several peents as competing males also call. This is a spring evening song of the Timberdoodle - a poetic nickname for the Woodcock .
At dusk or later, the hooting of an owl sometimes breaks the silence - maybe the Great Horned Owl calling to its mate, or the Barred Owl as it announces its presence. Before spring migration is complete it is sometimes possible to hear chirps, tweets, whistles or other sounds as a variety of birds pass overhead in the protection of darkness.
Of course a spring evening is chorus time for the frogs - earliest of the season may be the duck-like quack of the Wood Frog or maybe the Boreal Chorus Frog with a call that sounds like a finger running down the teeth of a comb, or the shrill peeps of the Spring Peepers - of ten together making a cacophony of music that can be heard throughout the night as these too seek mates. Later these early frog choruses will be joined or replaced by the sounds of other frogs as well as that of the American Toad.
Darkness is the time for many kinds of animals to stir and search for food, and while most remain silent and betray their presence only with an occasional snapping branch or rustle of dead leaves, there may be a squabble among the Raccoons which causes a strident clamour as the animals stake a claim on food or right-of-way. Or maybe it is a pack of Brush Wolves (what else will I call them if they are hybrids of Wolves and Coyotes) that let their message be heard.
But have you ever stopped and listened to the plants - growing? At least that is what I call it as under the poplars behind my house there is a whispered rustling on a warm, damp spring night. I think it is the plants as they push their way up through the blanket of leaves that has protected them all winter. Perhaps sometimes the rustle I hear are small creatures - mice, shrews or even insects - but I believe it is mostly the new leaves of young plants that are welcoming spring by reaching for light, and it will not be many days before the green leaves are visible above the brown carpet.
Note: If you have tried to go to the website to see the Hummingbird nest - omit the hyphen - HummingBirdNest should be one word without breaks.
Observations: Lola Stacey, near Harrowsmith, says the male Pheasant now has a couple of females in the area (maybe chicks later in the season?). Ron Hifner, Little Long Lake, reports his first Rose-breasted
Grosbeak on May 7. Also on the 7th, there were a number of returning warblers near my place, including Nashville Warbler, American Redstart and