We took an 800-mile drive in the Dakotas last weekend, a brown drive spattered with white, not many birds to be seen, Nice time, though. Give that country a couple of weeks and it will be an exciting place. (As will any location where birds should be found.)
Meanwhile, our yard is the place to be. Sometimes, the best birding is where you are, no driving required.
The pond behind the house is 80 percent ice-free. Four Wood Ducks were there earlier this morning, three drakes and one highly desired hen. Wood Ducks nest here, using the boxes we provide. Mallards also have visited.
A Red-bellied Woodpecker is in high courtship gear. Perched on a dead box elder tree near the pond, he — we presume it is a male — has been calling steadily for two days. His song is the all-purpose churring call this species makes. The bird churrs three or four times a minute. He slows as the afternoon wears on. I’ve put up one woodpecker nesting box in the yard, a modified duck box, and today plan to build a box intended for woodpeckers. It will be designed for flickers, which we have in the neighborhood. Cross my fingers.
A pair of White-breasted Nuthatches is cleaning a cavity in a maple tree about 12 feet from our deck. We will be able to watch the nesting cycle with coffee from a deck chair.
Bluebirds and Tree Swallows are swirling around my bird boxes at the nearby golf course where I tend boxes. The Bluebirds have staked claims.
Last night, Apr. 23, I heard the first frog call coming from the pond, a lone Wood Frog tuning his voice.