Mid-March Phenology

As I walked to the Cathedral of Learning at lunchtime yesterday, I made a list of all the new Spring things I found despite the chilly weather:

  • Crocuses blooming at Schenley Plaza.  These, in fact.
  • House finches, northern cardinals, robins and song sparrows all singing.
  • Male common grackles puffing up and saying “Skrinnk!” to each other.
  • European starlings singing songs that sound like killdeer and meadowlarks.
  • More dark-eyed juncoes than before — they’re on the move.
  • A bright ice halo around the sun that became a sundog.
  • Ducks and geese migrating.  (Saw a tundra swan fly north, high over the Cathedral of Learning)
  • Spring peepers and woodcocks at Middle Creek last Sunday.  (none of those in the city)
  • Freezing nights and above freezing days.  It’s maple sugar time.
  • Immature peregrine falcons wandering and migrating.

Do you have a list of Spring things you’ve seen lately?  Leave a comment to let us know.

And about that last item in the list:  While I was observing the halo around the sun I saw a peregrine falcon fly in from the west very high up, nearly a dot.  The bird came a little lower as it approached the Cathedral of Learning (CL) but it was still quite high when it saw E2 and Dorothy mating near the nest.  It then passed over the CL to the east and used thermals to rise higher and higher. From below it looked dark, perhaps a juvenile.  When it was a tiny dot in my binoculars it moved off to the north.  I’m glad it was no threat to my two favorite peregrines. It was just passing through.

(photo by Kate St. John)

p.s.  Here’s a definition of phenology and a list for Western Pennsylvania.
p.p.s. This is my 1,000th blog entry.

19 thoughts on “Mid-March Phenology

  1. Red-winged black birds at my feeder – two females and 4 huge holes in a tree in my back yard made by a male pileated woodpecker. My husband saw him last week working very hard. No additional sitings – we’re hoping it’s a nest but don’t know for sure yet.

  2. Congratulations on your 1000 entry. That is a lot of information you have dispersed to us Kate, and we thank you.
    Here in Al. (and being my first winter here, I am no expert), but it was cold! We had some snow and ice over the past months. However, now the Bradford Pear trees are done flowering, and when I walk my dog at 6:30, the Robins are everywhere and the Cardinals are singing. I think the one thing that absolutely amazed me was how the pansy beds have thrived for months even after having snow fall on them and being iced over a couple of times.

  3. at the jersey shore:

    osprey returning.
    american oystercatchers returning.
    piping plovers returning.
    phoebes returning.


  4. And may you have 10,000 more! We’re all so proud of you. Needless to say we all learn a lot and expect to continue learning…”I’m still learning”, Michelangelo in his 87th year. Love, Mom

  5. At the Thorn Hill park up here in Warrendale, PA, two American Woodcock peenting last night at dusk, with spring peepers in the background. Wild Turkeys were all over the lawn at work this morning, the toms strutting their stuff for the ladies…

  6. I saw several (3-4?) male bluebirds along the Montour trail (Arrowhead Trail) near the Peters Township / Bethel Park line on Sunday, March 13.

  7. Congrats for your 1000th entry! And thanks.

    Spring is coming to Northern Illinois!
    Saw my first robin and Sandhill cranes last week.
    Crocuses should be up in the next few days with the warmer weather.
    Birds singing even in the afternoon. Woodpeckers waking me up with their drumming.
    Canada geese are becoming territorial. Honking at each other in groups of two.
    Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds hogging my feeders.
    A Chickadee checking out the nestbox in the backyard.
    Buds swelling on trees and shrubs.

  8. Kate, Thanks for all the hard work and research you put into each entry!
    I heard my first spring peeper last night (in the eastern suburbs of Pittsburgh).

  9. Congratulations on your 1000th post and many, many thanks for all you do!

    Here in Western Washington, the crocus are blooming, tulips are lazily popping up and the first red shoots in a couple of my peonies are promising that winter is coming to an end.

    My feeders are busier than ever! Nuthatchers, finches, robins and mourning doves are constant visitors. Flicker woodpeckers are busier than ever — especially when they hop on the roof of the house and then “knock” to let me know they are there (I always hope the husband isn’t home — when he hears them, he asks me why I feed them).

    Love going out in my yard and hear them all chattering about, building their nests and deciding which feeder to nibble from…..love spring!!!!

  10. Congratulations on your 1000th blog! Best wishes for the next 1000!!
    Now I must go outdoors and look for all the things everyone mentioned! I’m obviously not very observant…I’ve only seen robins, daffodils poking up out of the ground, my pansies and my resident chipmunk has returned!

    Thanks for the always entertaining information!

  11. So glad I had found this site; it has wakened up my many memories of wildlife & so enjoy my walks much more because I find the trees & flowers and now the weeds interesting. And am always trying to see who is singing where & if I can find them. Saw Dorothy has second egg and Harrrisburg 2. Wonderful things you do Kate for us. (and you too) Faith (cousin on chat)

  12. Congratulations Kate! And thank you for the great evening on Monday. Have been watching Pitt this evening and Dorethy looks as if she is keeping her 1 egg warm, hope to see more soon

  13. Happy 1000th. Kate! About the spring peepers…I have not heard them yet this year, but last year we did have them at Nine Mile Run in Frick Park, in the city. I live above the creek on the hill and could hear them from my house.

  14. Reading these posts is like reading poetry! Maybe in your spare time, Kate, you can collate these and publish them? Teasing!

    I know that “one swallow does not a summer make” but I’m relying on 13 robins and 5 sparrows in one place to make a spring! Yeah, right. From my mouth to God’s ear!


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