Harbingers of Spring

March 12, 2022 

    I sure am glad that spring has finally arrived. Today, I saw and heard the first Meadowlark, and a few days ago, the first butterfly of the year. 

   One of the earliest harbingers of spring is the nest building of the tiny Long-tailed tit/Onaga. They start building their nests in the middle of February, thus allowing them to raise and fledge their chicks before snakes emerge from hibernation. Snakes are a major predator of nestlings for many species of birds.

   The exterior of their nests are constructed of moss and spider silk. This allows the nest to stretch as the chicks grow in size.  Up to 15 eggs are laid! The interior is lined with feathers to keep the brood warm in March. As many as 1500 feathers may be used! I managed to photograph a Long-tailed tit pulling spider silk from a spider egg sack. If you look closely, you can see the spiderlings, which are a source of food in the winter months for the Long-tailed tit.

Below are a few other species of birds that have arrived recently. The Eurasian Green-winged teal/Kogamo, is a common species. They are able to fly close to 100kph in level flight.    The Pale Thrush/Shirohara is perched on a round leaf holly tree, kuroganemochi in our front yard. A flock of about 100  will continue eating the thousands of red berries  during the nest week until the the large tree is stripped bare of all it’s berries.     The Daurian Redstart/Jobitaki, is a favorite bird of mine because they are so dapper and willing to pose in their fine suit of feathers. Both the Daurian Redstart and the Pale Thrush overwinter here in Kyushu.     The Japanese White eye/Meijiro is the only bird in this group that is nonmigratory.  Their omnivorous diet enables them to remain year round.   The final image is not a bird, but it does “migrate” in a sense. The Orion Nebula is mostly visible in the evening sky during winter in the northern hemisphere.

If you ever feel overwhelmed by work or school, or depressed by viruses or war, remember that nature is always there for you to help ease your mind. Love and peace to you all.