The New Normal: Too Early Spring

Cutleaf toothwort (photo by Dianne Machesney)

21 March 2012:

One day does not a summer make but a week of June-like weather is mighty convincing.

Though I’m thrilled to be wearing summer clothes in mid-March it makes me very worried.  Our temperatures have been 20 to 30 degrees above normal.  In Minnesota the morning low in International Falls tied the previous record high on Monday!

The heat is unprecedented and the landscape is responding.  Last Sunday I found cutleaf toothwort (pictured above) blooming four weeks ahead of schedule and yellow buckeye trees leafing out in Schenley Park (below).   The weather is three months early.  The plants are one month ahead.

Yellow buckeye full leaf, 20 March 2012 (photo by Kate St. John)

Insects are responding as well.  Stink bugs are everywhere and I swear I heard a cricket last night.

Most birds can’t keep up.  Those already here are moving north a bit early but the bulk of the migrants are in Central and South America and have no idea our weather is so far ahead of schedule. When they get here they may find their peak insect food resources have passed.

Meanwhile peregrines lay their eggs so that hatching will coincide with the push of northward migrants.  Dorothy’s first egg is right on time though the heat is not.  It was sad to see her panting at the nest yesterday, trying to keep her egg cool so it won’t develop out of synch.

Dorothy gular fluttering to dissipate heat, 30 March 2012 (photo from the National Aviary snapshot camera)

With a warm winter here and a very cold winter in Europe, we’re on the roller coaster of climate change.  Arguing about it is pointless now.  Ready or not, we’re already experiencing the new normal.

(Cutleaf toothwort photo by Dianne Machesney.  Yellow buckeye leaves by Kate St. John.  Dorothy panting at her nest on 20 March 2012 from the National Aviary falconcam at Univ of Pittsburgh)

9 thoughts on “The New Normal: Too Early Spring

  1. Speaking of panting – the Decorah Iowa Bald Eagle has been panting like crazy while sitting on her nest of 3! It’s hot everywhere this March!!!!

  2. I too felt sorry for Dorothy as I watched her pant in the heat. She has been crying and calling all morning. Could this mean another egg is on the way?

    1. I don’t know what it means. I see that both birds are at the nest right now.
      …later… I think they’re talking to each other about the heat … It may be that E2 is offering to shelter the egg.

  3. Is the Gulf Tower snapshot camera broken (or turned off)? I know the birds have not been spending time there, but I’ve been watching it just to see if they would eventually show up, and the picture I’m seeing is dated 3/16 15:39:41 and never changes. I can’t watch the live video at work because my company blocks video streaming, so the only way I can view the nests is with the snapshot cameras.

  4. Mary Ann, I have alerted the Aviary about it. It should be fixed soon. Meanwhile if you want to see a new image, press the refresh button on your browser.

  5. Spring is here, birds I see – going crazy, prolly excited about spring.
    Some of yesterdays:

    I’ve seen maybe 50 of these grackles but they’re not so willing to pose for a pic:

    And starlings keep on whistling me back….
    Mockingbirds start making their sounds, last weekend saw a mockingbird on a neighbor’s antenna and a firetrack was passing by with a siren…Mockingbird mimicked pretty good, prolly only lyrebird could do better:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *