Early Birds

My morning walks with Dash have become quite musical lately.

The songbirds have been warming up their voices, looking for or reconnecting with a mate, establishing the territorial boundaries of future nestling nurseries.American robins don’t leave southwest Virginia for the winter but they, like most of the resident birds, are quieter in winter, and less visibly active. I’ve been watching them glean grassy spaces for worms and other tasty invertebrates for several weeks now, as the temperatures warmed and the soil became softer.Granivores (aka seed-eaters) and omnivores like the northern cardinal and blue jay, respectively, also stick around year-round, aided by the generous handouts of their human neighbors. They’ll share access to a feeder, with their own species and others, especially in winter. On this spring morning, however, one male cardinal had opinions about property claims and he was shouting them to the rooftops!Other birds, particularly insectivores like the cerulean warbler and the blue-headed vireo, left for buggier climes back in autumn, returning to North America for spring and summer and the serious work of raising a family.

Me and my terrier-boy? We’re semi-migratory. Actually, the better classification would probably be nomads. We move, stay in that habitat for a year or two, disperse, repeat. Sometime we return to a former home range for a while, sometimes a location is one-and-done. There are pros and cons to this life strategy, as with every other, but it has definitely allowed us to see and hear a wide variety of songbirds![Thanks to the following photographers for making their work available through the Creative Commons license: DiaGraphic; koorosh B; Carolyn Lehrke; Chad Horwedel; Aaron Maizlish; and Claudine Lemothe© 2017 Sidewalk Zendo. Reprints welcomed with written permission from the author.]

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