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  • Writer's pictureBethany Plonski

More Spring Stirrings

In my previous posts I focused on spring plant life, but the change of seasons also brings lots of animal activity.

Spring is a great time for birding. Migration season means all kinds of birds are coming and going, and many of the year-round residents are busy nesting and feeding their young. With all the trees leafing in, I'm enjoying the chance to catch birds against more colorful


Male cardinal perched in apple blossoms

Male common yellowthroat singing
Common yellowthroat singing

Chickadee in the willows
Chickadee in the willows

It's always fun to welcome the birds who return with the warmer weather. One of my favorite spring arrivals is the blue-gray gnatcatcher. These tiny little bluish-gray birds have a prominent eyebrow that can give them adorable "angry bird" faces. They are mighty fast and always a challenge to capture.

Blue-gray gnatcatcher
Blue-gray gnatcatcher

Blue-gray gnatcatcher
Blue-gray gnatcatcher

Spring also means that birds who spend the winter in the South will soon be leaving.

By April/May, ruby-crowned kinglets are harder and harder to find as they start to head out toward the Western US and Canada for their breeding season.

Ruby-crowned kinglet
Ruby-crowned kinglet

Like blue-gray gnatcatchers, kinglets are quite a challenge to photograph because they are so small and fast, plus they tend to hang out in dense, shrubby areas. Even when I can't manage to pull off a decent shot, I love watching these little acrobats. It's amazing how fast and agile they are, and you've gotta love their intense-looking faces.

Ruby-crowned kinglet
Kinglet showing just a hint of its red crown

Another highlight of spring: it's baby season! Where I live, Canada geese are some of the first to be out and about with their young. It's hard to believe how much these beautiful creatures evolve and change throughout their life. They start so small!

Chipmunks are another sure sign of spring. When I was younger I remember learning that chipmunks would hibernate for winter, but it turns out they have some atypical hibernation habits that make them a bit of an oddity among winter hibernators. We have mild winters here, so it's not uncommon to see one on a warm winter day. Sometimes they'll wake up to go out and forage for food, like this one I spotted rummaging through the leaf litter back in February.

Chipmunk in the leaf litter
Now that's some camouflage!

Gray squirrels stay busy all winter here, but I loved the sleepy look on this one's face. The past two months have been pretty hectic for me, and if I had to choose an image that represents how I'm feeling these days, this might be it!

Gray squirrel eating sleepily

Spring can also bring changes in an animal's physical appearance, like this whitetail deer in a patch of butterweed. Most deer look a little rough now, but soon they'll be gleaming in their sleek new summer coats.

Whitetail deer standing in packera glabella
Whitetail deer in packera glabella

Last but not least, warmer weather means it's time for turtle parties! I love watching them bask in the sun.

Four turtles basking on a log
Turtles basking


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