It has been a long cold hard winter along the Front Range of Colorado. We have gotten enough snow in February to wipe out the incipient drought we were headed into, which is a good thing. But it came at the cost of a snowstorm every couple of days. That was hard.
We’re not out of winter yet — March and April are typically our snowiest months in Colorado.
But as the dogs and I went for our morning walk, we also found the first signs that spring is on the way.
As we walked, we heard the “eh-eh-eh-eh-eh” call of a male Northern Flicker trying out his mating call.
Further on, we found a Spotted Towhee by his “cha-cha-chaaa” call. Like the flicker, his calls right now are just warm-ups. He quickly dropped down to the snow to hunt for seeds.
Hearing these guys practice their mating calls cheered me up. And as we walked home through the cold, the sun broke through the clouds, promising a sunny day.
I don’t know for sure that this is the same bird, but as I pointed out last fall, it is a little unusual for them to be hunting in the semi-wooded suburbs.
And this bird is hunting. Another neighbor said that he came out to get the morning paper, and it was ripping up a rabbit it had caught in his front yard. He said it didn’t fly off as he approached, so he decided to get the paper later.
Today I heard a Crow burbling as it flew fast overhead. It joined another to harass the Red-tail, at times almost driving it into the ground.
I love to wake up to the sound of birds singing. The “twup tewerp” of robins, the trills of house finches, the hyena-like call of Northern flickers. But in the past few years, I’ve started to hear a new sound in the mornings: “Cha cha cha che e e e ! Cha cha cha che e e e!” It took me a long time to find the owner of this song, and then I realized it was in the shrubs next to me. And when I realized that, I realized that Spotted Towhees were all over the neighborhood.
According to Cornell’s Birds of North America website http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/263/articles/introduction, Spotted Towhees breed in the plains, mountain shrub and lower elevations of the mountains, scratching for insects and seeds in the litter. When staking their claim to territory, though, they perch in the upper branches of a shrub and sing. A nice addition to the dawn chorus.