Cardinal with birch bark fragment for its nest
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. Seven Wood Ducks were there earlier this morning, four of them drakes. Wood Ducks nest here, using the boxes we provide. Mallards also have visited.
A Red-bellied Woodpecker is in high courtship gear (note the actual red belly on this bird, more visible in breeding plumage). Perched on a dead box elder tree near the pond, he — we presume it is a male — has been calling steadily for three 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 yesterday built a box 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.
A female cardinal is tearing loose birch bark from our river birch, nesting material, I assume. Her nest is nearby. I just have to follow her.
Bluebirds and Tree Swallows are swirling around my bird boxes at the nearby golf course where I tend boxes. The Bluebirds have staked claims.
Two nights ago, April 23, I heard the first frog call coming from the pond, a lone Wood Frog tuning his voice.