As the snow pack begins to melt here at Carpenter St. Croix Valley Nature Center we are seeing many signs of spring. One of the earliest indicators that Old Man Winter is finally losing his grip is the tiny Black-capped Chickadee. These dynamic birds overwinter in our area and have been giving their breeding call for almost a month. Listen for their â€˜feeeee beeeeeâ€™ two note whistled song. Recently the Northern Cardinals and House Finches have joined the chorus, switching from a communication of winter â€˜chip notesâ€™, to spring advertisements of their attractiveness. The Northern Cardinal is one of the species in which both the male and female sing. Listen for the loud clear â€˜Cheer cheer cheerâ€¦birdie birdie birdieâ€™ of the Northern Cardinal.
March is the prefect time of year to get outside, get some fresh air and enjoy some of the larger wonders of the bird world, and Hastings is a GREAT place to do that. Bald Eagles are nesting and as the trees have not yet leafed out-you can actually see the birds on the nest. In the city of Hastings we have a nesting pair on County Road 46 along the Vermillion River and in Lake Rebecca Park. The Peregrine Falcons are also back in the area and staking their claims on breeding territories. These birds are the fastest creatures in the world, diving at speeds in excess of 200 miles per hour to catch their prey, which are birds. The Midwest population of Peregrine Falcons has been well studied and most of the breeding birds are identified by individual band numbers. The researchers have even given each bird a name, and spring in the world of the Peregrine Falcon resembles a TV soap opera, with individual birds trying to claim the best nesting locations and occasionally switching mates. Successful birds tend to return to the same territory and mate year after year. Last year our Hastings pair did not produce any young-but we have our fingers crossed for this season. Look for these svelte, grey birds perched on the tops of the power stanchions near the Highway 61 bridge.
This month is not just all about birds, and the warm days and cool nights get the maple sap flowing. Carpenter Nature Center offers a public maple-syruping program on March 21st and everyone gets to sample this tasty treat. Looking ahead to next monthâ€¦think â€˜Timberdoodlesâ€™. This odd creature will return to our area to stage some bizarre displays. Until next time-I hope to see you on the trailsâ€¦.