The month of May is here and I’m glad. It was with mixed feelings that I ripped April off my calendar and bid it good bye with good riddance mixed with a measure of thanks. Let me explain.
The month of April brought with it the bad temper Mother Nature can sometimes show. Some Aprils are sunny and warm; storm free and pleasant. Not this April, though. We had storms causing damage around the area. We had too much rain at times but the main thing that chapped my rear was the early-morning temperatures.
April is when I usually begin doing something I love to do and that’s take a basket of crickets, a comfortable chair and set up shop on the bank of a favorite pond. The bluegills are usually bedding by then and it takes a minimum of effort to fill a cooler with all the big fat bluegills and chinquapins I care to clean.
I keep a daily log of weather conditions and looking back over the log for April, I see 52, 48, 49, 51 et al as morning temperatures — and my favorite time to hit the pond is in the mornings. I’m not ready to have to have to wear a jacket to fish for bream so I’ll have to wait and see if May offers more comfortable conditions.
While April chilled us and didn’t let us take coffee cups comfortably to the porch to enjoy spring weather, something else took place that sort of made us forget about what a bad mood Mother Nature was in that month.
Every year around this time, song birds that have spent the winter in the tropics begin thinking about heading north where they’ll spend the summer and fall nesting and rearing offspring. During this time of time of year, they begin first gathering on the coast to restore their strength and energy from the exertion of winging their way across the Gulf. Birders from all over visit the coast to experience this spectacle, seeing birds they only see this time of year.
Once their stamina is replenished, the birds begin filtering north making their way through our part of the world, occasionally stopping by to sample our bird feeders that are usually visited by those native to north Louisiana – cardinals, blue jays, chickadees, titmice and such. Some that come through this time of year stay through the summer, rearing their young, while others bid us adieu after filling their stomachs before moving on.
Every year about this time, I start looking for one particular species of song bird, one that always stops by for a week or so before moving north. It’s the rose breasted grosbeak, a stunningly beautiful bird with eye-catching markings; a black back, white underside but what catches your attention is the crimson throat and upper breast the grosbeaks sport. The female has the appearance of a large brown sparrow. I’ll usually see a pair and sometimes two stop by to sample what’s on my feeder.
This year, something happened that made me forget that April robbed me of my chance to fish for bluegills. It was the sheer number of these beautiful birds that have converged on my feeder. I was thrilled when my first one showed up April 20. What I haven’t expected is the fact that the grosbeak flood gates opened and I’m filling my feeder several times a day because there have been so many.
One morning, I counted more than a dozen on the feeder, on the ground and on nearby branches. It’s not just me seeing them; reports have come in all around the area from folks seeing bunches of grosbeaks around their feeders.
So April, I’m giving you a pass this year. Your weather stunk, but being inundated with so many rose breasted grosbeaks is a nice consolation prize.
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