bearriver Blog: "The early bird gets the . . . territory!"

"The early bird gets the . . . territory!"

Wednesday, Feb. 20, 2013

Even with snow and colder temperatures still in the forecast for the next week or more...it seems that spring is just around the corner.  It must be - because out in the frozen marshes, all the local Red-winged blackbird males - as well as the resident male Song sparrows - are singing up a storm!

Many local or resident birds start tuning-up their songs well be for the actual arrival of spring, because - let's face it - "the early bird gets the territory...and thusly, the girl."  Many species of birds - from blue jays to cardinals out east - to red-winged blackbirds, song sparrows and chickadees here in the west - that are local residents are practicing their songs and already coming into lovely breeding plumage.  This is all to get a jumpstart on the mating season.  It literally is life or death to these birds.  To be able to mate and pass on their genes is the most important event in a bird's life. And if you can get the best territory, with a bounty of food and resources for nesting, PLUS you happen to have gorgeous epaulets or lovely gorgets or a snazzy song . . . then you are more likely to be chosen as a mate and succeed in your goal.  

This early-bird phenomena can definitely be heard right now around the Refuge - and probably in your backyards or local parks.  It still seems like weeks to months away til some of the migrants will show up, but for those birds that are already here...the show has already begun.  Male pheasants are "coralling the babes" and showing off their rainbow colors, and even a few western meadolarks have been heard to warble a practice tune or two.

Of course - there are also other great views of spring activity this early in the season. Many of the winter duck species - such as goldeneye and bufflehead - have begun chasing each other around the ponds and wetlands, and throwing their heads back in showy splendor in preparations for the all important show up north on their breeding grounds.

So - while spring may not quite yet be "in the air" - it definitely sounds like it can't be too far away!

Happy birding.

- Jason

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