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It’s In Your Nature: Turning the switch

Winter sometimes seems to really drag and hang on. Although, I don’t have to remind you, this winter offered little snow, and for me, that translates to less time clearing a long driveway. But April finally flexes its muscles and “new” birds seem to appear almost overnight.

I can’t be patient enough. My short birding drives and walks in the dead of winter were limited to maybe two days a week, but not in spring. Even though we had a few 28-degree April mornings, it didn’t stop the birds from doing their annual thing. For them, heck to the cold.

Our longer days with the increasing amount of sunlight, signals them to get to their breeding areas. The males’ hormones increase and they need to establish a territory and claim it. The red-winged blackbirds are perched on the cattails or fencing and singing their raspy tunes. The robin flocks the past few weeks have now dispersed into a myriad of lawns and backyards.

If you’re an early riser like me, the mornings are no longer quiet. Robins are singing at the hint of light on the eastern horizon. The two male cardinals that fed quietly side by side at my feeders in January, are now singing from opposite sides of our property and have little sparring bouts if they both “end up” at the feeders the same time. In fact, one of the cardinals is so determined to claim our territory, he is sitting near the side mirrors of our vehicles, pecking at the intruder (his reflection) and leaving behind a fecal mess to clean up. (But heck, I enjoy the cardinal more.)

Speaking of cleaning. Today is Earth Day. It started 53 years ago and offers hope that maybe Earth Day’s yearly reminder will jump start our conservation practices. In our household we continue recycling as much as possible. I turn off lights in rooms not in use, I try to use a little less hot water, and I seldom ever use a supermarket plastic bag. I think last year, we purchased one case of bottled water.

I cringe when I travel some secondary roads because I can’t imagine who would discard their cans, energy drinks, fast food wrappers/boxes from their autos. I’ve never done that. I am a hypocrite in one way though, as much conservation I try to employ, I do get in my vehicle burning up precious fossil fuels to get to a few of my nature spots. I try to justify that a bit by cleaning up every spot I park.

I took a walk south on the D & L trail from Weissport last week and was appalled at all the litter in the Lehigh Canal. How does all that “crap, excuse my language” get there? Everything from children’s toys, cans, bottles, packaging materials, you name it. Unfortunately that is all too common today.

On this Earth Day anniversary, I ask that you consider more recycling, dispose of your used electronics at special recycling events, try to use reusable shopping bags at the store and encourage our community leaders to again have biweekly recycling pickups. These are small, yet important steps in the scheme of things on this earth, but it has to help. Let’s be better stewards for those precious to us who will follow our footsteps on this earth.

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: You may have noticed small trees bedecked with white flowers scattered along the Blue, Bear or Broad Mountains. They are not dogwoods but are: A. Juneberry B. shadbush C. serviceberry D. All of these (they have 3 common names).

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: While robins and bluebirds usually have 2 yearly nests, the mourning dove may have 4 or more.

Email Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com

Get outside early on Earth Day, or any spring morning, and listen to male robins singing to attract mates and to claim their prized territory. Maybe it is your backyard. BARRY REED PHOTOS
Actually arriving before most of the robins, red-winged blackbird males sing from an exposed perch. Their goal is the same as the male robins, however they use their red and yellow epaulets to gather more attention. Look for them on fence posts, cattail stalks, or roadside shrubs.
Dwindling rapidly, wetlands are crucial to the food chain. Maybe an Earth Day reminder will help us remember the value of wetlands for great blue herons and myriads of other birds and mammals,
Maybe because we have less recycling events or maybe some people don't care, disposing of some larger trash items is too easy. I photographed these five discarded tires in an unnamed stream locally. A quick scan of that streambed revealed at least 18 tires and other trash. Remember that stagnant water trapped in tires is a great breeding place for disease carrying mosquitoes.