As the snow melts on the prairie, signs of spring are in the air. I am not talking temperature, but more a song in the air. Last week the cardinals started singing across the prairie. Then earlier this week Lilly and I were greeted by 10 sandhill cranes – calling loudly and flying in formation – as we stepped out the door for our morning walk. Now the red-wing blackbirds are back, calling to each other across the prairie.
With the warm weather people speculate that we will have an early spring, but according to our phenology calendar the birds are right on schedule. While cold weather or snow would make it more difficult to find food, the birds return is not dictated by the weather. Rather their return is based more on day length. As the days get longer more and more birds will return. If you listen when you leave the house every day you will note the same thing I have in past springs. The noise level will get louder and louder as the number of birds singing for a mate increases, until it is extremely noisy. This is when you will know spring has full arrived!