The Wrack

The Wrack is the Wells Reserve blog, our collective logbook on the web.

Robins, Blackbirds, and the Timberdoodle

Posted by | March 16, 2006 | Filed under: Observations

Midway through March, early signs of vernal reawakening appear at the Wells Reserve. Those most famous harbingers, the robins, actually drop in now and then throughout the winter, but their numbers certainly increase as migratory flocks from our south pass through or move in.

Blackbirds fly over in mixed flocks of grackles and red-wings, fifty, sixty, seventy, or two hundred at a time. These raucous species are far less likely to be found, as robins and bluebirds sometimes are, wandering Maine in our coldest months. The konk-a-ree of a red-winged blackbird issued from a patch of cattails is a solid sign that spring is on its way.

Among the subtler signs of the season are the timberdoodles, formally known as American woodcocks. In March, these woods-dwelling shorebirds begin to claim their territories. Over just a few weeks each spring, the male woodcock performs a spiraling aerial display that impresses females and lucky human observers alike. The Wells Reserve manages grasslands and early-succession forests especially to provide woodcocks a place to thrive, and it's a great place to experience a fascinating and unique part of spring's avian world.

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