Welcome March 2019!
And happy birthday, Yellowstone! 147 years old and going strong. Today they start to plow the roads for the summer season! While the winter season isn’t quite over yet, it’s time to wind down. You can check the opening and closing dates here.
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It’s time to start watching for spring to ramp up. Since there’s much to add to my phenology journal, I’ll be sharing some of the things I’m seeing around here.
Yesterday the birds were singing courting songs in full force – especially the black-capped chickadees. Our resident pair is looking more closely at one of our nest boxes. Also singing yesterday were pine siskins and house finches. One of my favorite things is the dawn chorus of birds in spring. We still have frigid temperatures and about 6-8″ of snow on the ground, so it’ll be a while until I can sleep with the window cracked to let in the fresh air and morning wake up calls.
The starlings showed up yesterday for the first time this year. We’ve had a kestrel box here at the house for a few years now that’s not been used by kestrels even though we see them often. There’s a pair of Northern Flickers that look at it each year, but either it stays empty or the starlings move in. Mom was at a wild bird store in Billings not long ago and was told that if you fill the bird box with wood shavings to the entrance hole, that it discourages starlings and encourages flickers. That’s because the flickers will work to empty out a bird box as part of their courtship behavior. So, yesterday we got out the ladder and filled it up. I haven’t seen the starlings yet this morning but will let you how this trick works.
It’s also time to start looking for mountain bluebirds! March 1 is the earliest date I have for seeing them. That’s when they showed up in 2016. Interestingly enough, in more than one year, they show up both in the Cody area and Gardiner pretty much on the same day. I’ve wondered if that might be because they’re both high altitude desert areas. I’ll be heading out more to a few locations where I’ll watch for them.
We also have a bluebird house here that usually ends up with tree swallows nesting in it. Last year it was torn apart and raided by raccoons. The birdhouse was replaced and Mom found a birdhouse protector – an extension tube for the opening that keeps the raccoons from reaching the nest. We’ll how that trick works as well.
Hot on the heels of the bluebirds will be the Sandhill Cranes. Time to take some drives out a bit farther east to start looking for them. Birding is a great excuse to get out and take a drive. It looks like it’s going to be a glorious day here today – with sunshine and blue skies. Great way to welcome in the month.