This morning the news was filled with hype about a certain groundhog and the condition of his shadow. This is always great fun, but doesn’t really seam to mean much.
Last winter, about this time, I was getting calls and emails about another early sign of spring, the American robin. Folks that know birds (or look out a window occasionally) know that American robins are not rare in the winter. The converge, in small flocks, to areas with their winter food, berries. In my world I see winter robins around the local shopping mall and in my schoolyard. On a recent trip to Ohio to visit Wilmington College we witnesses dozens of robins clearing berries from campus trees.
(In fact while attending an art department interview with my daughter I couldn’t help but to watch the robins outside the window. When visiting another Ohio school with another daughter, several years ago, I got separated from the tour following crows.)
My response to those robin questions last winter was posted here with an argument that another bird better serves us as the harbinger of spring — the red-winged blackbird.
Ironically — one year shy of writing the piece mentioned above — spotted a lone red-winged blackbird singing from a high tree in Ritchey Woods (Fishers, IN) this afternoon. I left school the moment that I could to get in 30-40 minutes of birding. I spent much of the time chasing red-bellied woodpeckers through the treetops. As I was walking to the car I heard the unmistakable flute call of the res-winged blackbird. Punxsutawney Phil tells us that there are six more weeks of winter, robins tell us nothing. The red-winged blackbird tells me that spring is right around the corner.
(I’m not sure we’ve had winter, yet.)