09 March 2008

Redwings, Robins and RAIN!

Well, what do you know? For a change, we didn't get belted with snow, but with a most impressive rainstorm instead. I haven't heard yet how other parts of the Maritimes have fared--both the Internet and satellite went out for a while last night, naturally--but here we had rain all day yesterday, and then last night it got down to serious business with major drownpours and of course wind lashing it all around--AND thunder and lightning to add to the festivities. Surprisingly, there's no flooding around here, and there aren't even ponds laying around in the yard--the ground is apparently more thawed than we realized and absorbed a lot of the melt and the rainwater, which is a surprise.

There are welcome surprises here this morning, though. When I came downstairs, bleary eyed and time-confused (though I'm glad to have Daylight Saving Time here), hubby had my coffee poured, the waffles warm in the iron, and the Bakeapple syrup ready for me. And he was gleeful. "Look outside!" He told me happily. "The redwings are back."

(Google image, photog unknown)
And so they are. Well, one big bright male is, anyway--I haven't gone down to the pond to see whether there are more, but there will be. They come to our feeders to eat seeds, but as spring comes on they'll eat a lot of insects too, as well as wild seeds (remember those wild plants I talked about last post?)

Our pond is a wild area, with lots of cattails, sedges and reeds, and assorted other native plants, including alders. Yes, alders. I welcome them by the pond, because they hold the soil in place and also act as filters for groundwater, as well as being habitat havens for all kinds of wildlife. The pond isn't deep, and we've talked about digging it out at one end because it's silted in quite heavily, but I worry about disturbing the myriad frogs, beneficial insects, salamanders, birds and other creatures that make the pond and surroundings their home.

While we were excitedly celebrating the arrival of redwings, something caught my eye further back in the yard. There's a distinctive way that some birds move, and before I even found my glasses so I could see clearly, I realized what it was. An American robin. In fact, a few of them, bop bop bopping across the grass in search of tasty tidbits.

It's a grey, dreary day here today, and suddenly, that doesn't matter one bit. The bird populations are changing, and a walk around the squishy property showed me that yes, the willow branches are brightening in colour, buds are swelling a bit on some shrubs, and oh, look at those green perennial weeds. (yes, I have weeds that I DON'T want, too.) It's almost time to start PlantWatching, looking for those first harbingers of true, rather than calendar, spring. As I wrote in my column in the Chronicle Herald this morning, Spring WILL eventually remember where we live. And we'll make it through. All of us, whether we're in La Ronge, Sask, or Tampa, Florida or hanging on to the windswept Fundy shoreline.

And even though it's snowing again, now, and I can't see to the bottom of the pasture. We will get through.


  1. I love when the birds start coming back! I saw robins back here for the first time on Friday. I don't think they were happy with our 20-degree temps though. They seem as ready for spring as the rest of us are.

  2. One swallow doesn't make a spring, and neither does one robin~ but even if spring doesn't stick around Jodi, you've heard the song and have the promise.

    If robins are in Canada already our garden has probably been passed over and we won't see them at all this year.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  3. Jodi, we are so glad to see a post that doesn't involve the mention of blizzard conditions and not being able to see anything in the garden. Yea to the redwings and robins. We haven't seen the robins here yet, so tell Annie that she may still see some!

    Frances at Faire Garden

  4. Last Monday, I headed down the trail behind our house, breaking a snowshoe trail in the new snow. The deer had been all over the hillside - even one lone moose had wandered through just ahead of me.

    In spite of the snowfall, it was the first day that I felt the subtle shift to spring. On the way back, I heard the first Hermit Thrush of the season, it's haunting call echoing through the forest.

    It was a springtime gift of the hugest proportion.

  5. I think I remember seeing at least one robin around here back in February, but I haven't seen any since. Right now, I listening to a hopeful papa cardinal calling out to all the ladies that he's "right 'chere! Right, right, right, right 'chere!" So, the birds certainly seem to think spring is on the way.

  6. our city birds here in Toronto have been singing a little louder these past few days. while we did get a dumping of snow over the past two days, I'm convinced it's smooth sailing from here on in.

    thanks for coming up with the blue poppy award. I've seen it on a whole bunch of blogs already which is a testament to the success of the garden bloggers geography project. I've been trying to get it onto my site but I must be doing something wrong 'cause I haven't gotten it to work yet. I will try, try again.


  7. Hi Jodi,
    I love seeing the colorful birds shown in your post. We don't have a lot of colorful birds in this region--seems they are all gray or plain block. Except for the hummingbirds of course, which have brilliant colors.

  8. Light at the end of the snowy tunnel. Spring is close! I saw robins everywhere today during our excursions. Lively sight indeed.

  9. Yes - I saw some robins too, here in New England! And the jonquils are poking up. The forsythia is budding. Of course, with 5 inches of rain yesterday, and the scent of Spring in the air, I am delirious! Can't wait for my daffodils!

  10. Hi there, Jodi :-)

    Enjoyed this post - especially the arrival of the birds. I can easily imagine your excitement! Funnily enough I posted a bird count from my garden today - we still have the blackcap but I keep expecting she will move on one day soon :-)

    I also posted on my plants today too. You are welcome to share the signs of Spring from my garden in Scotland until you see it in yours :-D

    BTW I still have a draft of a Geography post I am working on so you will soon see my part of the world too. Busy time, I got my homepage revamp finished which I am delighted with :-D

  11. That is hopeful, Jodi! Spring is slowly but surely opening up her petals for us. I'm glad you got a nice, soaking Spring rain storm instead of snow - I know you've had more than your share this year. And that it didn't flood. We're very sympathetic to that problem here where rains almost always mean floods -- not because our ground is frozen, but because it is so bone-dry and drought stricken. Do you kitties like watching the birds arrive?!!

  12. Yipeee, seeing the first red wing and robin are sure signs that spring is coming. Good for you.
    I saw one of the largest flocks of Snow buntings just north of Indianapolis where I was staying this weekend. This probably means they are flocking up to head back north to their breeding grounds. Many were well into their breeding plummage. Very exciting to see.

  13. Yes, what Annie said. If the robins are in your garden, they've long departed Austin for cooler climes. I love red-winged blackbirds. We used to see them in Oklahoma each summer, where we traveled to visit relatives.

  14. I love that the spring is on it's way! Beautiful post!

  15. Red Winged blackbirds! My grandmother loved these birds.When she would come to visit from southren Indiana, she would watch them for hours. Whenever I see one, I always think of her.

  16. Jodi: I have noticed that the birds are starting to gather and are looking into the houses on the posts. I hope they choose to live here! As for DLST and time change....ugh! Takes a week to acclimate!

  17. Hi everyone and welcome...finally making a bit of time to answer all your nice comments!
    Lintys: Yes, I think the robins weren't pleased when it started snowing yesterday afternon here. I haven't seen any yet today despite the bright sunshine.
    Annie, that's a great phrase--and I was surprised to learn the robins don't stay with you all season. Just shows again how different our geography and climate is.
    Frances, your and Annie's comments have piqued my interest to find out more about robins. When the literature says 'south' I assumed southern US was far enough.
    Deb, nice to hear about the the hermit thrush. The deer I can do without--I did notice quite a few along the roadside between Amherst and Memramcook on Thursday.
    Patricia, I'd so love to see a cardinal up here! They're down in the Valley, only a few miles away, and their range is expanding, I'm told.
    Irena, I hope it IS smooth sailing for us, springwise. Try copying the smaller version of the award, maybe the large one is too large?
    Aiyana, I"m really surprised about the lack of colourful birds--though the hummingbirds make up for that somewhat. Do they stay yearround in Arizona?
    Robin, good to hear there were lots of robins around you (makes the name appropriate, for sure).
    Victoria, 5 inches of rain is too much all at once! Hope the girls weren't too annoyed with it.
    Shirl, those signs of spring in your garden are mighty welcome indeed. I saw you were revamping your homepage and hope it didn't give you too much fits. Looks great!
    Diana, the catchildren love watching 'bird television' every chance they get. Mungus was making big speeches as he watched the bluejays yesterday.
    Lisa, we had snow buntings early last week but like you, I think they're getting close to migrating now. So beautiful...I'll miss them, but others take their place.
    Pam, this is so interesting about the robins! and I take it redwings don't live this far south? yet they migrate in from somewhere, as we stop seeing them usually in late August. More to learn.
    Marie, I too am glad that spring is finally coming.
    Beckie, the redwings make me so happy...I love the calls of the males, telling the females that they're here, and telling the senior cats off when they go outside for a while.
    Layanee, I'm surprised--I've already reset my DST clock which is amazing, but then I don't sleep that much anyway so it doesn't seem that tricky. Or maybe I'm just so glad to see sunny weather and birds...

  18. Jodi, we had that same storm barrel through here on Saturday. I have a number of tree tops down (it's ok, I don't like those trees). No standing water here either so we too must be thawed.

    We have lots and lots of robins but that red winged blackbird is something I'd like to see in my yard!

  19. Jodi, the original saying is something like "one swallow doesn't make a summer" but with summer still way off I had to use a little poetic license ;-)

    We used to see and hear redwing blackbirds in Illinois ...at a local park a nesting couple would attack the heads of any visitors who ventured near. I've never seen them here but Austin bird blogger James of Coyote Mercury has them in his bird lists.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  20. Jodi, I was here yesterday and tried to leave a comment, but Blogger wasn't having any of it!
    We had heavy rain on Saturday, with a little snow overnight, and frigid banchee-like winds here, bit luckily, no damage. Not quite so crazy Sunday, but still very cold. Sunshine right now and 3ºC (38ºF).
    Isn't it a joy to see the redwings? They're here too, at our feeders, as of a few days ago, although I saw a few earlier in February. We did last year too.
    I have yet to see a robin though. Can't wait!
    I planted a few seeds the other day...inside, mind you :)
    Happy 'Spring Forward' Day (for yesterday)! Yes, we'll make it!

  21. The birds are the true tellers of the season aren't they? I can feel your glee as you write about your warm weather friends are back. I am SO HAPPY FOR YOU!

    Hugs and sunshine wishes,
    Cindy at Rosehaven Cottage

  22. Red-wing blackbirds aren't back here yet nor are the Canada geese. I Think they know something. sigh

    The purple finches are back, though, and that's a start. (Goldfinches were here all winter.)

  23. Of course you will get through, I don't doubt that for a moment and it surely helps when the pretty birds come and visit you, doesn't it?

    Here we had rain all day long on Sunday and storm and rain on Monday. Today some rain but some sunshine too.

    BTW we have robins all year round although they are not the same robins. In winter the robin in my garden comes from Scandinavia and my summer robin is overwintering in Spain or thereabouts. ;-)

    We'll have DLT at the end of March.

  24. I love to see the robins back! but they have a nasty habit of tearing up any new bark that I put down...very irritating!


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