And just like that, with no announcements, quietly and beautifully spring has arrived.
For us, it arrived this past Sunday when our little Phoebes came back to visit the nest where they raised three young last year. (We also have some blooming flowers, crocus and coltsfoot!) I will have to admit, I was not the first one to notice their return. They are curious little birds and visit each window in the house where they hover effortlessly, checking in on us. The curiosity of these little birds always sparks the primal instinct of our three indoor cats and Leela, the most beautiful orange cat in the whole wide world, is trying to tell me that they are back…and that I need to pay attention!
Eastern Phoebes are a grayish, robin sized, shy but curious, migratory flycatcher and are one of the first birds to arrive back in the spring. They tend to look “fluffy” to me and will always have the very characteristic tail bob when they perch – like this one as it sits on our garden fence.
This pair has come back to reuse the nest they built on our gutter last year. High enough to be protected from predators and close enough to the roof to be sheltered from the weather, but also too high for me to peek in on them – or to get very good pictures.
In 1804 John James Audubon banded the very first bird in the United States – which just happens to be the Eastern Phoebe. Like a good little ornithologist, I will montior the female’s work on nest repair, building, egg laying, incubation and rearing. I will document their progress through binoculars for the Citizen Science Program, Neighborhood Nestwatch. Seems simple, but if these two can travel to Mexico and back every spring, repair a nest, raise one or maybe even two clutches of babies, then this is the least I can do. You can do this too – help scientists gather data to help them learn about migration, urbanization effects and nest success rates. When we all work together, in each of our own little corners of the world, small things add up to BIG things.