Sunday, 23 February 2014


The first signs of spring are finally beginning to show. For the past few weeks I have heard a Northern Cardinal singing his cheery song outside my window, and chickadees have been "fee-bee"ing for almost a month. Over-wintering American Robins have started to sing and their numbers will soon be augmented with many more.

I would imagine that birders feel the changing of the seasons sooner and more vividly than a lot of other people. For many, spring still seems a month away as the temperatures are still, on average, below 0 degrees Celsius and at least a foot of snow is hugging the ground everywhere in the province. Despite that, spring is well underway to birders! Horned Larks are beginning to invade the province in big numbers, and male Common Goldeneye, Common Mergansers, and others are busy displaying to the females. The wintering Ring-billed Gulls in their drab winter plumage are now being joined by new migrants from the south, sporting clean white heads and bright yellow bills and legs. Since I am stuck working regular office hours during the winter, the onset of spring is quite apparent as the hours of daylight have been increasing steadily. I now have more than an hour of daylight once I leave the office! It won't be long now until the snow melts, flocks of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds start to become numerous, and flocks of geese, ducks, and swans feed in the open, snow-less areas.

Red-winged Blackbirds - Schomberg

One of my favorite spring activities is to put on my hipwaders, grab my headlamp and camera, and venture out to damp woodlands in search for amphibians on their way to their breeding ponds. Usually this begins in earnest sometime between mid March and early April.

Green Frog

Gray Treefrog

Spotted Salamander

Jefferson Salamander

Spring Peeper

I will miss the early part of spring this year as I have a 2.5 week trip to Panama coming up, followed by a two week visit to Europe almost immediately afterwards (more on this trip later!). Hopefully I will return in time to witness the annual "migration of the salamanders"!

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