Signs of Spring Everywhere Signs of Spring Everywhere
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Signs of Spring: February 1, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

Spring Is in the Air!
It's not even Groundhog Day and signs of spring are already popping up! On January 23, 1999, in Port Lavaca, Texas (28.81, -96.98), Harlen Aschen's seventh grade class "saw our first Red-winged Blackbirds in numbers today. Robins are very active and possibly beginning to move northeastward. Our hibiscus and hummingbird bushes are budding out."

Gayle Kloewer's seven grade class in York, Nebraska (40.84, -97.54) reports on January 18, "On a trip to Grand Island (about 40 miles west of us) we saw hundreds of Canadian Geese circling the area at dusk. There are some breaks in the ice on the Platte River and the ice on area ponds is thinning due to recent weather well above freezing."

Listen to the Chickadee's Song
Wait for download; 470 K file.
Recording Courtesy of
Lang Elliott

In the northern states and Canada, Black-capped Chickadees are singing their true song now which doesn't sound anything like their "chickadee-dee-dee" call. It's a sweet whistled, "Hey, sweetie! Hey sweetie!"

Something to Crow About!
An even more noticeable sign of spring is the conspicuousness of crows. Suddenly they seem everywhere! Some crows do migrate, but many of them stay in the north. How can we possibly use a winter bird as a "sign of spring"?

Listen to the Crow's Caw
Wait for download; 620 K file.
Recording Courtesy of
Lang Elliott

During December and early January, crows hunker down, concentrating all their energy into finding food and shelter. As days grow longer and we get a January thaw or two, crows have a little more time each day for other things, and immediately turn to courtship and nest building. We hear their caws more, and see pairs flying together. Many of them are carrying sticks. It's fun to pay careful attention to stick-carrying crows. If you watch their direction and follow them, sometimes you can find where they're nesting. You have to be very sneaky--crows are extremely secretive near their nest sites.

February is very early in the year to be courting or nesting. In northern states and provinces, the only other birds that are starting nesting behaviors are owls and some hawks. Crows nest earlier than just about every songbird.

Challenge Question 1: Hawks, owls, and crows nest very early in the year. Why do you suppose they court and start building nests when it's still winter?

How to Respond to Challenge Question #1
1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 1
3. In the body of your message, answer the question above.

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