Spring is Almost Here!

Spring Peepers start singing with the first warm rains of the season.

Spring Peepers start singing with the first warm rains of the season.

I heard my first peepers of the season early this morning here in Missouri. Spring is on its way!!! 🙂

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Evening Lullaby

moon

One of my favorite things to do in the summer months is to sit out on the patio in the evening to unwind after a long day. My yard has always been a peaceful sanctuary for me, especially in the evenings. It’s cooler, for one, especially since my patio is on the east side of the house. The hustle and bustle at the feeders starts winding down and the birds start singing their evening songs. I’ll usually hear the hummingbirds buzzing around the sugar feeder to my right a few more times before they too call it a night. Meanwhile, the gray treefrog that’s been camped out in one of my windchime pipes during the day pokes his head out to start singing, his voice sounding hollow and tinny from within the pipe. More frogs in other yards start answering. The crickets, too start their nightly chorus, a nice backdrop to some of the other evening sounds.

The female bluebird has returned to the nest box for the evening. She’s got eggs. At last check, I counted three, but I suspect there is at least one more. Sadly, this is not my original female. The first one was driven away after her mate was tragically killed last week. I’m not certain, but I believe it was a territorial dispute that went horribly wrong. I was quite upset when I found him and carried him up to his final resting place in the woods. Still, life goes on, and while I’m not seeing the first brood of bluebirds that fledged in my yard anymore, I can look forward to seeing a whole new batch of babies in the coming weeks.

The mockingbird is going through his repertoire of songs. I like to see which bird songs that I recognize from his list. A woodpecker drums somewhere in the woods, while a robin chirps his goodnights. Occasionally, I see a bat flying overhead, busily catching insects on the wing. “Eat all the mosquitoes you want, little one! You’re always welcome over my yard!”

The light is starting to wane now and the moon starts to shine a little brighter. My solar lights throughout the yard are starting to come on. Soon it will be too dark to write, but for now, I will sit here and enjoy my evening lullaby, and let the stress of the week just float away.

gray treefrog sitting on my windchimes

gray treefrog sitting on my windchimes

gray treefrog on my siding

gray treefrog on my siding

Solar lights going on by the pond. There are the windchimes that my frog is sitting on.

Solar lights going on by the pond. There’s the windchimes that my frog is sitting on.

Light by the "bird garden".

Light by the “bird garden”.

Somebody was clinging to my patio door! :)

Somebody was clinging to my patio door! 🙂

 

What’s Happening in the Yard?

tiger swallowtail on lilac

A tiger swallowtail on my lilac bush.

The weather has been crazy here in Missouri the past two weeks! Last week felt like June with highs in the 80’s. The heat wouldn’t have bothered me, but the air was so thick with pollen, that I was forced to retreat indoors and turn on the air conditioner just so I could breath. This week felt like March. It has been so cold and wet (we’ve had some frost advisories) that I had to turn the furnace back on!  As a result, I didn’t get out in the yard much and had to resort to watching things happen from my patio door.

What have I seen? Well…

The female bluebird has made a new nest in the nest box. I’m not sure if she has eggs yet. I will have to get out there to check. Occasionally, I see her first brood in the trees. The male often stops at my raisin feeder to take some snacks back to his youngsters. He splits his time between watching after them and checking to see if the female is okay.

The gray treefrogs are FINALLY singing near my pond! I was concerned that the harsh winter we had this year had negatively impacted their population. This cold week has quieted them down though and I’m still waiting for the toads to show up.

frog in windchimes2

A gray treefrog sitting on one of the pipes of my windchimes, of all places!

The hummingbirds have been fighting over the sugar feeder. I noticed some webs hanging from one of the female’s feet, so I’ll TRY to see if I can locate her nest. They can be hard to spot though and, so far, I haven’t had any luck finding one.

I saw a pair of yellow-billed cuckoos in the trees a couple of days ago, but my camera wasn’t strong enough to focus in on them. Hopefully they’ll come around again, because there are more tent worms for them to snack on.

A flock of cedar waxwings dropped by yesterday and were hanging out in the back of my yard. Again, they were a little too far for my camera! I’m not sure what they were after though. This was the first time I spotted them in my yard. They looked like they may have been eating something off of the sumac bushes, but I can’t be sure.

I did manage to get to a native plant sale on Saturday where I purchased a few new plants for my yard, and I was able to get them into the ground before all the rain hit.

beebalm

Some bee balm that I bought at the native plant sale.

house finch

I heard something behind me after I took a photo of the bee balm. This house finch was only a couple of feet from me!

It was hard to stay inside though, and I occasionally got outside with the camera to take some photos. I just couldn’t stay out for very long.

rain on leaves

Rain droplets on some leaves.

mushroom

Mushrooms are popping up all over the place!

columbine

My columbine is in full bloom.

caterpillar

A caterpillar.

Everything is growing like crazy and all of the little animals are so busy raising families. Hopefully, my allergies and the weather will ease up so I can work/play out in the yard more in the coming weeks. 🙂


~ This entry was written in response to the Blog Your Block Challenge.

Happy Earth Day!

My backyard in the morning sunlight.

My backyard in the morning sunlight.

It was a gorgeous day today, and in honor of Earth Day, I spent quite a bit of time out in the yard. No working, just enjoying! Spring is in full swing now and a lot is happening.

Baby bluebirds about 4 days old.

Baby bluebirds about 4 days old.

The baby bluebirds are getting bigger and have started getting more feathers. I wish I could watch them more, but the parents weren’t too happy with me!

red bud blossoms

red bud blossoms

The red bud trees are in full bloom. They’re gorgeous when the sunlight hits those magenta flowers! The dogwoods will be blooming soon. I’ll make sure to share some photos with you.

spring peeper tadpoles

spring peeper tadpoles

And it looks like the spring peepers have laid eggs in my pond because now there are tiny tadpoles everywhere! They are a little hard to see in the photo. The sun was shining and I had a hard time seeing what the camera was focused on.

I hope you are able to get out today and just enjoy what nature has to offer!

This Harbinger of Spring… May Not Be What You Think!

I was laying in bed a few weeks ago, trying to fall asleep as the wind drove the rain against the side of my house, when I suddenly heard something. A sound I had been waiting for weeks to hear. I sat up in bed listening, not sure that I actually heard it, when suddenly, I heard it again. The clear, high-pitched “PEEP!” coming from a male treefrog known as the Spring Peeper singing by my pond just outside my window. Despite the cold front that was moving in, I knew that winter had finally lost its grip. How did I know this? Because these little frogs are the harbingers of Spring!

Spring Peepers start singing during the first warm rains of the season.

Spring Peepers start singing during the first warm rains of the season.

Here in Missouri, and in much of the northern part of their range, Spring Peepers are the first frogs to emerge from hibernation, and they start singing during the first warm rains of the season. On warm nights (I’m not a fan of being cold), I like to go out and look for them! I’m sure my neighbors have wondered, on more than one occasion, what the heck I was doing as I hovered by my pond armed with my camera and a headlamp strapped to my forehead! These little guys are hard to spot though and I usually have to stand really still until one of them starts singing again and betrays his location. Even then, I’ve spent many nights hearing them but not being able to find them.

I found this little guy hiding under one of my pond plants.

I found this little guy hiding under one of my pond plants.

Can you see the "X" on his back?

Can you see the “X” on his back?

Just to give you a little perspective as to how big they are.

Just to give you a little perspective as to how big they are.

Spring Peepers prefer shallow pools of water (or in my case, my 4×6-foot prefabricated pond) surrounded by lots of low-growing vegetation so they can hide from any predators. They are small frogs, only 3/4 – 1 1/4 inches, which may surprise you given the loud volume of their calls. As the nights get warmer, their calls get louder, to the point where they can often be deafening. They are different shades of brown, gray or olive and are identified by the dark cross on their back resembling an “X”. This coloring allows them to blend in easily with the dead plant debris leftover from the previous season, making them a challenge to find.

Whether I see them or not, I enjoy listening to these little amphibians. To me, they’re announcing that winter is finally over and warmer days are on the way!

What signs of Spring do you look for each year?