Outdoors

Robin and snow, a sure sign of spring?

The Nature Call: The songs of spring are here

An American robin sits in a tree after a snowstorm. Is the robin a sign of spring? (The Gazette)
An American robin sits in a tree after a snowstorm. Is the robin a sign of spring? (The Gazette)
/

Kwroop, kwroop, kwroop, kwropt, kwropt, kwropt, kwropt the robin clucked in its accelerating style.

A song of spring.

The morning chorus is growing, like the length of day, and soon too the turf grass. The roller coaster dawn calling each robin emits is a tune I can pick out in the assemblage of songs. Lovely. Or not?

Stuck in the house for more than I, or anyone, wants to be, my outdoor sojourns have been mostly relegated to my backyard. In my yard I’m thankful at least to have enough biology to keep me occupied.

With more time to think — always a risky proposition with me — I’ve had to reconsider my observations of the auguries of spring: is all this verbiage from the robins actually rather rough and lusty talk? “Oh, my!” I hear George Takei say.

The “ah-ha” moment came when I watched a pair of robins perform aerial maneuvers the likes of which would flatten any human pilot. They zoomed, dove, careened and carried on with their clucking.

At one moment I saw a festival of feathers, a gaiety of avian play. Then in the next moment I saw the viscous, amoral and epic struggle that has existed since time immemorial to win breeding rights through violence and bravado.

And there, in a way, my backyard of delights turned into something more reminiscent of the Coliseum. And I was a throng of one.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

That birds are the direct descendants of dinosaurs is an accepted scientific consensus. If you have ever spent time in the spring woods with turkeys, then it’s not so hard to imagine T. rex actually lurking inside of a stalking tom turkey. You knew that as well as I.

But that’s the wilds, not the suburbs. The robin is a cheery little fellow and also a small warm-blooded dinosaur. I hold room that both things can be true at the same time.

The little cold spell gave Marion a snow covered morning. According to my mother, it needs to snow three times on the robin before spring will truly arrive. Well, that was the third by my count.

Despite their lurid singing and coercive displays, the robins still are welcome in my yard. With increasing warmth the Neotropical migrants will arrive and join the chorus — and the debauchery.

Behold, the fights of spring.

Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.

John Lawrence Hanson, Ed.D., of Marion teaches U.S. history with an emphasis on environmental issues at Linn-Mar High School and sits on the Linn County Conservation Board.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.