Feathered friends make a spring appearance

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By Sylvia Brockner

Oh, how good the sweet fresh air feels. I am sitting in the yard at the Life Care Center, and I can’t begin to describe what a pleasure it is to get outside.
Yesterday was Friday, March 18, and a small band of mule deer wandered through the yard. The band included one male, two females and one young.
He was no longer spotted but was very small. I wondered if it would make it through the winter.
However, it looks like this is going to be an easy spring. I haven’t made it to the lake yet, but I get almost daily reports from Loie Evans or Warren Raski.
It is wonderful to have them phone me to report anything new and exciting every day. My latest reports have been that the barrel is seriously tipped and if the melt continues, it will soon sink into the lake.
If we have a strong west wind, the lake should begin to build up a strong chop, and the ice will go out quickly, but it is hard to say. If it should turn cold, the ice could, of course, freeze over again.Everyone has been reporting both American robins, and western and mountain bluebirds. In fact, someone reported seeing a robin here on the lawn, but that’s not unusual. Small flocks of migrant robins are here all winter, and on the first days our lawns are free of snow, they are out looking for worms. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be more snow. They are often here in large numbers, even when deep heavy spring storms arrive in March, April or even May.
On Wednesday, March 16, red-winged blackbirds were singing in the wetlands at the lake and flickers were drumming nearby. Bluebirds and robins on the lawn near the lake house and song sparrows were singing on every porch. They have such a robust, happy song, and they seem to be saying, “Hey, look at me. I’m back and happy to be here.”
The beautiful pair of red-tailed hawks has been doing its courtship flights over the lake and so will presumably plan to nest nearby as it did last year. Hopefully, someone will actually locate the nest to confirm it, but the flight of interlocking circles is a sure sign of courtship, and they will not be too far away.
Mallard and Canada geese have returned to any open water, and as usual they are slip-sliding on the slippery surface of the ice. House finches have been reported by lake visitors, but those are probably no more than usual. It’s just that they are developing their full vermillion color and are more noticeable.
The greatest sign of spring came on Saturday, March 19, when Loie Evans called in the late afternoon to say she had found three beautiful pasque flowers blooming while she was walking on Evergreen Mountain. This is an early date because in most years, we don’t see them before April 15.
These lovely lavender chalices give them the name of blue tulips in some parts of the country and the name prairie smoke out on the plains where their fluffy seed heads look like smoke settled in the valleys.
April should bring pussy willows and more birds. I regularly watch for osprays over the lake about April 15 as they visit for a day or two on their way north.