[Tweeters] Spring signs and Western Meadowlarks.

bruce paige BBPaige at nikola.com
Wed Feb 18 15:27:54 PST 2015

A week ago, I headed for coastal Oregon and California to (successfully) find the Bean Goose and Common Scoter. Many locals along US 101 made unkindly comments about the recent wet weather which resulted in flooded fields and many eroded stretches of highway undergoing repair. It obviously has been an early, mild, but very wet spring. Some of the other locals were voicing a different opinion- I have never heard such an overwhelming post-dusk chorus coming from the fields. The approving "ribbets" were in the overwhelming majority.

One, somewhat regrettable spring happening is that the numbers of some wintering birds are waning. Ducks, geese and other waterfowl crowd the ice-covered lakes in their rush to head north. The last few days, I've noticed that another bird has all but disappeared from the fields. Just a couple of weeks ago, meadowlarks were trying out songs, first in snippets, then in full melody along the Schmuck Rd. east of Sequim. One of the largest flocks in the County has over-wintered there for years, but no meadow singers have been seen for days and the farmlands seem emptier for their absence.

I've often wondered about these birds. Is the flock made up of mainly the same individuals from year to year? Where do they go, to just a nearby coastal area or to all over the west? Do some dominant individuals lead others in their travel? Are families of meadowlarks involved? Why do they select this particular field year after year for the flock and not others nearby- that alone increases the probability that at least some of the same individuals are involved. What causes them to disperse in February and to be back in November? Do they move on this journey at night? Will we ever know the answers to questions like this?

Bruce Paige

spruceak at yahoo.com

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