What You Can See on April 7
Submitted by Ted Williams on Fri, 04/07/2006 - 07:13.
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. Big Noise, Little Bird Now, from woodland edges and brushy thickets all across America, comes a bubbling, musical torrent that rises frantically—as if the singer had too many notes and too little time. Abruptly, the music gives way to a harsh, scolding buzz. All this racket issues from the thumb-size house wren, or “jenny wren.” There he is on the birdhouse, a tiny gray sprite, stump-tail cocked jauntily, sassing the world. His Chippewa name means “making big noise for its size.” The male constructs as many as seven nests of twigs in natural cavities or birdhouses, then takes the female on a guided tour, fluttering in front of her and popping in and out of his creations. When she selects her home—usually in mid-May—she sometimes adds more twigs, then builds a deep, soft cup with such material as grass, feathers, or cocoons. Reptile Calisthenics As the sun lingers over the northern hemisphere, fence lizards, a bit longer than a pencil, start breeding throughout the southern two-thirds of our nation. When trying to attract mates, the males appear to do push-ups, displaying patches of iridescent blue on belly and throat. Look for these quick, dark sprites in almost any habitat—open woodlands, grassy dunes, and prairies, but not deserts. A fence lizard can be closely observed or photographed on a tree, but you’ll need the help of a friend. Send him or her around the trunk, and, like a squirrel, your subject will ease around to your side.