Journal

Northern Cardinal

March 4th, 2013 • Categories: Birds, Uncategorized, winter events1 Comment

Northern Cardinals have begun to sing! Theirs is one of the earliest and most welcome “spring” songs — February. On sunny days their loud clear slurred whistles promise that winter won’t last forever. You can listen to the cardinal’s song by clicking HERE. Northern Cardinal males are a bright spot of color in winter, but because they are so conspicuous they are quite careful. Cardinals are often early morning and late evening visitors to a bird feeder and seldom venture very far from cover. Female cardinals are a muted tan with reddish tones, but have the same pink bill as the male. Now the males are very attentive to their mates, feeding them seeds at the feeder. Soon you might have the experience I did last spring when I observed a male displaying to his mate by keeping his brilliant red breast turned always in her direction. He went through some interesting contortions to do so.

 

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Juncos arrive

March 20th, 2012 • Categories: Birds, spring events, UncategorizedNo Comments Yet

The yard is suddenly full of Dark-eyed Juncos passing through on their way to breeding grounds in Canada.

These dapper-looking little birds feed mostly on the ground. Listen for their gentle trills and watch for the flash of white along the outer edges of their tails when they fly.

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Horned Larks

March 6th, 2011 • Categories: Uncategorized1 Comment

One of our earliest returning migrants is back and beginning to set up breeding territories. Horned Larks return in February and soon begin singing and displaying to stake out an area of a field for nesting and raising their young. To find a Horned Lark look in open fields and on the dunes. One good location to look is in the fields around Wuerfel Park, near Chum’s Corners. The males return first and battle for territory. They fly high into the air and attack each other as they spiral down to the ground. On the ground they chase each other through the grasses. Between these confrontations they sing a sweet, bell-like song from high perches on snow piles, roofs or weed stalks.

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Dog and Cat Tracks

January 30th, 2011 • Categories: Uncategorized1 Comment

With the advent of snow, tracks become much more evident. It becomes easier to find out what the animals in the neighborhood–both wild and domestic-have been doing. In the first of several journal entries about tracks, our household friends, dogs and cats, will be the focus.

Dog and cat tracks are quite similar in that both have four toes in each track. The tracks are evenly spaced and alternate left and right. There are several differences, however.

All canines (Domestic Dog, Red or Gray Fox, Coyote and Wolf) have feet that are oval in outline. Their claws don’t retract so they almost always show in each track. The tracks are symmetrical. The center two toes are side-by-side in the front and the side toes are evenly tucked in, beside and behind them.

Feline tracks (Domestic Cat, Bobcat, Lynx and Cougar) are round in outline. Since cats retract their claws except when making a kill or preventing a slip, their claws seldom show in the tracks. Cat tracks aren’t symmetrical. One toe leads, rather like the positioning of our fingers.

If a track is from a cat it was probably either a house cat (1” diameter) or a bobcat (2” diameter). A cougar would have a 4”-diameter track and a spacing of about 4 feet between tracks.

A dog track will either be from a Domestic Dog (varies in size according to the size of the dog. A dog’s trail wanders around exploring with no apparent purpose), a Red or Gray Fox (Tracks about 2” long, in a narrow, delicate trail.) or a Coyote (Tracks about 2 ½“long, in a straight, purposeful trail.)

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