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Spring Migration
April 02, 2018

It's like right of passage here in Michigan.

Spring break for the school kids and you can almost e sure of nasty weather.

First week of April and we are blessed with high winds, driving rains, snow, and well below normal temperatures.

This also.

Holy Week was such a blessing for us.

Thank you for the many blessings and notes, good and bad.

It is said, if you aren't offending anyone with your faith, you aren't doing enough (paraphrased).

My friends in the south, how are the gardens looking, I would like to hear from you.

Things are slowly getting whipped into shape around here, (mostly as the weather allows).

Prayers for my brother and his wife are appreciated.

My brother ha a cancerous grow on his right kidney, Blood test continue to be a good sign, removed lymph nodes were negative.

Surgery is scheduled for April 12.

My girls are doing well.

Besides Karen and Yolanda, the four fur kids are also girls.

Most of the seedlings I've started are doing pretty good too.

I'm even taking a crack are growing artichokes this year (pictured).

I'll let you know if I get any buds to grow.

At the bottom of this letter are a couple pictures of a partial albino robin.

This is the third year in a row he has graced us with his presence.

That in itself is pretty impressive.

Bird migration is pretty much a year round thing over this marvelous blue planet we live on.

Spring migration is in full swing.


All across Earth, one of the sure signs that spring is here is the return of the migratory birds.

This will continue for another couple of months.

If you are familiar with the birds in your area you know that the change can be abrupt.

One morning, the bushes and trees around you are suddenly filled with singing birds that were not there just the day before.

Robins, Red-winged blackbirds, Thrushes, Warblers, Orioles, Swallows, Hummingbirds, and others fill your gardens with activity.

They have arrived during the night, following a combination of celestial (by the stars) and magnetic cues that are part of their genetic heritage.

Still again, your winter birds like Juncos, Redpolls, Snow buntings, White-crowned sparrows and others, are here today and gone tomorrow.

Springs migration is totally different than Fall migration.

There is an urgency to migrate in spring.

Procreation depends on it.

Autumn's migration is a more leisurely pace.

The most amazing part of this story is that these tiny birds may have flown thousands of miles to reach your yard, after spending the North American winter in Mexico, Central America, or South America, where the days remain warm and food is plentiful during our cold season.

(Indigo Bunting)

Many of the birds we consider "your birds," actually spend less than half of their lives here, with you.

Birds are driven so hard by 'the urge', that some die of exhaustion and starvation in the attempt to reach their goal.

They move north as the snow melts and raise young on the plentiful supplies of insects and fruits that are abundant only during the long warm days of our late spring and summer.

Like any good nomad, at the end of the breeding season, usually in late summer or fall, they move south again.

Most of them following only their God given instincts to reach the traditional "winter" home of their species.

This fall migration is a somewhat drawn-out process for many species, and flocks will linger and feed wherever food is available.

Possibly to take life easy after a stress filled season of raising a family or three.

For many birds, they find staging areas to flock in great numbers and add needed weight for the next stage of their trip.

People will come from around the globe to witness the mass exodus of hawks, Sandhill Cranes, and other birds during fall migrations.

The spring migration, however, is urgent.

There is little time for staging.

You snooze you lose.

Many people like to call the early bird (especially for hummers and Purple martins) 'Scouts'.

There is no such thing as a scout bird.

A scout implies they are checking things out and when ready, they go back and get the clan to follow.

What your 'Scout' or early bird is, is typically an experienced bird that knows it is 'first come, first serve', when territories are involved and breeding rights are involved.

For each species there is a specific, optimal time when the birds need to arrive in their breeding areas and he wants to make sure he has the best spot to attract the ladies.

The strongest or more experienced males arrive first and stake out the prime territories, often in the same location where they nested the previous year.

When females arrive, they select the males that occupy the best habitats, strongest colors and other things that will continue a good genetic line and a good place for raising young.

Rarely does the same couple meet up from the following year, but it has been know to happen (DNA testing).

The pair must then construct a nest, incubate eggs, and raise their brood in the short period before it is time to start the journey back to the wintering range.

While there is a certain amount of variability each year, research does show some trends.

In the last 25 years, many species are arriving earlier, and a significant number of species are also shifting farther to the north.

Some believe it is climate change, while others may feel it is a shift in better habitats and populations.

Still others believe it is one of Nature's many cycles.

There are years where a late winter or early spring snow storm and arctic temperatures will fall on the north country killing off and starving out many birds.

Spring can bring cool temperatures and days of rain in the south.

These conditions keeps flying insects hiding and birds freeze and starve to death.

Spring migration can be a huge risk for many species of birds, especially those that rely 100% on insects for food.

Climate change or one of 'Nature's population controls?

Length of day and other factors stir the hormones and this sets of the trip north.

While weather plays a small factor, it is not the determining factor at all.

A stretch of warm days may have some birds arriving a week earlier than normal.

Still, a stretch of cloudy, rainy days will keep many birds grounded for a few days.

It is difficult to navigate in the safety of darkness when you can't see the stars.

Daytime migration is to dangerous with predators just waiting on the wing.

Still, spring migration is an exciting time of the year for all of us.

Even the winter hardy birds that enjoy our feeders will migrate to some degree.

Small flocks of wintering chickadees or cardinals break up and go their separate ways as they look for breeding territories.

Dominant males get the best territories from the get go.

If you have watched your year round birds, you will know just what bird is the Alpha male, as he gets first feeding rights as well.

If you have a prime area, you will have the dominant pair nesting or feeding throughout the year.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless

"My dad said, 'Stay humble, and you gotta work harder than everybody else.' My mom said, 'Always be yourself.' She always told me only God can judge me".

Nate Robinson

Be Humble my friend, and seek HIM.

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land".

2 Chronicles 7:14

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors,

We borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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