'Dawn chorus'

  Male blackbird emoting.

Male blackbird emoting.

The birds were singing very loudly this morning, in what ornithologists and others call the "dawn chorus.'' Given how cold it was this morning -- indeed, one of the coldest mornings of this generally very mild winter -- this might sound surprising, but the birds are reacting to the bright March sun, not the temperature. The dawn chorus is loudest in the spring. The noise is related to the birds trying to lure a mate, defend a breeding territory or call in the flock of members of the same species in the same neighborhood. Sounds very human....

I've long wished that New Year's Day came on March 1 instead of Jan. 1 because about now is when things start growing again in southern New England, at first slowly and with much hesitation but by late April, explosively. On Jan. 1, on the other hand, you can't look forward to different weather or visible outdoor biological change for weeks.

Lots of crocuses and snow drops came up and bloomed in the past week or two with the extraordinarily warm weather and now they're in frozen ground. But they're tough and they'll look good again by the the middle of this week when it gets into the fifties. Life is resilient, especially in New England, with the wild weather swings that go with being at the crossroads of such different climate zones.

A few folks around here say they heard some spring peepers (a kind of tiny frog) this past week -- very early in the season indeed. They'll be silent for a couple of days but I wouldn't be surprised if they're heard again in just a few days.