Our Long Lost Friend “Mr. Springtime”…

I enjoy winter. Well I might correct that statement with “I USUALLY enjoy winter.” Over the past decade and a half winters in eastern Kansas have become mild to say the least, confirming the whole global warming thing, (not that it ever needed to be confirmed to me). Just when we were all getting used to the idea of lots of sunshine and mild winter temps, Mother Nature had other ideas. The winter of 07-08 has been COLD and LOOOONG. Winter seemed to simply refuse the release of it’s grip…well until about 5 days ago that is.

With rain coming down in rumbling torrents and an occasional glimpse of the sun, the world is going green, and going green in a hurry.

There are many things that are living icons of spring but two of them enjoy unusually loyal notoriety. One is the tulip and the other the robin. Just to confirm that winter is FINALLY over and Mr Springtime has come at long last, I’ve included a photo of each here. What a nice way to lift one’s spirits out of the winter dull drums…

Are these tulips mine you ask?…not a chance. I have never been able to grow the darned things (squirrels digging them up don’t increase the odds) . These belong to a neighbor. The squirrels in our neighbor’s yards must be really lazy or they have all come to some kind of strange agreement or something… 🙂

This little gal is feeding her recent hatchlings. She and her mate diligently tend to these babies all through the day. Songbirds are very devoted parents.

Here, only about four days later, the babies have more than tripled in size. Their eyes are now open and fuzz has formed on their tiny heads. Baby birds literally are “eating machines.” The parents poke insects all the way down into the little birdie’s stomachs. They can’t even swallow on their own at this point. Believe it or not, these babies will fledge in a little more than a week from when this photo was taken. That is why such rapid growth is necessary.

Just three days later than the photo above, the baby robins (below) are now huge and have developed wing feathers and the orange breast feathers for which this species is most known. This brood started out with four babies. It is now down to three and those three barely fit into the nest.

Three days later than the photo above, the baby birdies now really look like robins. There are still three of them, and they are jammed into that nest. They are stretching their wings and even starting to flap them. Because they are ready to fledge, I didn’t visit them again after this. When baby birds are just past this point, a visit from me could send them out of the nest a bit earlier than what is best for them. Most likely, they left the nest the very next morning.

Meanwhile, only yards away under the nest this Northern Water snake basks in the long awaited sunshine. Water snakes usually dine on frogs, lizards and fish. But they do occasionally make a meal out of small birds. Luckily the robin parents are very discrete about approaching their nest. After all, you never know who might be watching…