Signs of an Early Spring? 2-27-23

February 27, 2023  •  Leave a Comment

Will Spring be Early?

We "Spring Forward" on March 12, 2023 at 2:00 a.m.

The first day of Spring, or the Spring Equinox is Monday, March 20, 2023 at 4:24 p.m. CDT


Signs of spring seem to be all around us. Barred Owls are calling before dawn. Northern Flickers and Mourning Doves have been seen mating. The male White-breasted Nuthatch fed its mate a peanut as a promise to help raise their brood. The dawn chorus has really picked up and birds like this Blue Jay are putting a lot of effort into sprucing up for a mate.


2-15-23 Blue Jay2-15-23 Blue Jay 2-15-23 Blue Jay2-15-23 Blue Jay 2-15-23 Blue Jay2-15-23 Blue Jay 2-15-23 Blue Jay2-15-23 Blue Jay

Now that is a vigorous bather if ever there was one!


Our tree thinning and pruning was completed by Valentine's Day, so it was time to put up the nest box for the Eastern Bluebirds. On Friday, February 17, we had just finished, and as I got to the front door, I turned back to look. Good grief! The female was at the opening and the male was on the roof! I scooted inside to where the camera was ready.


2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird 2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird 2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird female2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird female 2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird pair2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird pair 2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird pair and female2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird pair and female 2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird pair and two females2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird pair and two females 2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird pair and female2-17-23 Eastern Bluebird pair and female

There was certainly a lot of interest in the nest box! The dominant pair seemed most likely to win.


2-18-23 Beginning of nest2-18-23 Beginning of nest

The next morning, Saturday, February 18, I checked and there was the beginning of a nest already. The pair had certainly laid claim to this box. 



2-18-23 Eurasian Tree "Squatters"2-18-23 Eurasian Tree "Squatters"

Eurasian Tree Sparrows (squatters!) came by but didn't stay long. The Eastern Bluebirds were successful nesting here last year, and have been protecting the box. However, we decided it might be time for a second nest box, two per acre is acceptable.


2-19-23 Red-breasted Nuthatch female2-19-23 Red-breasted Nuthatch female

For the first time this year, a female Red-breasted Nuthatch came in to the peanut feeder. This bird is very pale compared to the males, with gray feathers on its head. The next photo is a composite to show both sexes. 


2-19-23 Composite with male and female Red-breasted Nuthatches2-19-23 Composite with male and female Red-breasted Nuthatches

2-23-23 Red-breasted Nuthatch2-23-23 Red-breasted Nuthatch

The male's head feathers are black and the breast is much rustier.


2-19-23 Song Sparrow Bubbler bird #272-19-23 Song Sparrow Bubbler bird #27 2-24-23 Cooper's hawk immature2-24-23 Cooper's hawk immature

This Song Sparrow was Bubbler Bird #27 for the year. The immature Cooper's Hawk joined us at lunchtime one day as (first of year) FOY #40. Happened to catch it eliminating and ready for another meal!


2-24-23 Brown Creeper2-24-23 Brown Creeper 2-24-23 Three Rusty Blackbirds in swampy thicket2-24-23 Three Rusty Blackbirds in swampy thicket

The Brown Creeper shows up early and again at mid-day. The Rusty Blackbirds come in small flocks of 4-12 birds, turning over leaves in the swampy wetland area. This habitat in our yard is the biggest draw for these birds, and where they forage for invertebrates. Their camouflage is perfect, wouldn't you agree?


2-22-23 First Winter Chipping Sparrow2-22-23 First Winter Chipping Sparrow

The rare first winter Chipping Sparrow is still being seen nearly every day. Its fellow migratory companions won't arrive until the first week of April. For the last ten years, more of this species has overwintered in Missouri, toughing it out here rather than moving to Southern states.


2-26-23 Eastern Bluebird female inspects box #22-26-23 Eastern Bluebird female inspects box #2

Dan put together another nesting box for the Eastern Bluebirds and it went up Sunday afternoon, February 26. Another pair of birds were investigating it within minutes of us getting back inside. Was this the young female that had fussed about the other pair getting the first one?


2-21-23 Eastern Bluebird female2-21-23 Eastern Bluebird female

While the bluebirds wait for the stars to align and nesting season to fully begin, the woodland flowers are waking up.


2-25-23 Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)2-25-23 Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum) 2-25-23 Roundleaf Ragwort (Senecio obovatus)2-25-23 Roundleaf Ragwort (Senecio obovatus)

Celandine poppies, round-leaved ragwort and Virginia bluebells are coming up through the leaves, which protect their crowns on frosty nights.

Soon, it will be be Spring in earnest!





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