What You Can See on April 17

From Audubon’s Earth Almanac by Ted Williams and compiled in “Wild Moments,” edited by Connie Isbell, Illustrations by John Burgoyne, Storey Publishing, 174 pages. Fiddler on the Marsh When mud and sand suck warmth from the high sun, the fiddle section rises and pirouettes across the fragrant marsh, silently accompanying the symphony of shorebirds, breaking waves, and sea wind through cordgrass. From southern California to Baja, along our Gulf Coast, around Florida, and north to New England you’ll encounter sundry species of fiddler crab, so named for the male’s enlarged claw. On some marshes there may be 150,000 fiddlers to the acre. When a courting male spies a female, he’ll rear up and wave his fiddle higher and higher until he almost tips over. If she shows interest, he’ll rush back and forth between her and the entrance to his burrow. Then he’ll duck inside and drum on the walls with his big claw. When the female enters he’ll guide her down to the mating chamber, then slip back and shut the entrance with a mud plug. The female incubates her eggs for a fortnight, then returns to the surface to send her brood off on the big flood tide of the new or full moon. They’ll mature in the estuary for four weeks, then return as subadults under the next new or full moon.