Bird list & other natural events, March 2013

We could not imagine two months much different than March of 2012 and 2013. Last year we basically had May in March, getting the natural & growing season off to a worryingly early start. Now the opposite is true; it stayed so cold and snowbound most of the month that we’re as far behind now as we were ahead in 2012. Compare the two monthly temperature graphs below for March 2012 and 2013 in Columbia, from the National Weather Service. The average high for March 2013 (47.5 F) was lower than the average low for March 2012 (48.4 F); for reference the normal average is 55.3 (high) & 34 (low). The paired photos in this post also vividly demonstrate the difference.

march_temp_graphs

It’s also remained extremely wet; between snow melt and repeated rains, drought seems oddly distant at the moment. Though the late-season snowfalls were quite unwelcome, we did notice one benefit: they melted off much faster than mid-winter snows, due to the much higher sun angle. We desperately need a stretch of warm, dry weather to even things out again, and get the soil warmed.

In any case, all natural events we track are way behind schedule this year; our daffodils bloomed the latest we’ve observed (not until April!), and few of the interesting amphibians, reptiles, and other warm-weather species we observed last March have shown any signs of activity yet. Spring Peepers began calling on 3/9, likely spurred by that temporary warm day, and seemed rather put out for the rest of the month. Nevertheless, we recorded the most bird species for March in the three years we’ve been doing this, though this may partially reflect our ever-increasing birding skill and attention paid, along with a new feeder Eric built & erected this winter.

RECORDED IN MARCH (48 species, 16 new relative to February, 2 unobserved since February). First arrival dates for migrants shown in parentheses.

Great Blue Heron
Snow Goose
Canada Goose
Greater White-Fronted Goose
Wood Duck
Turkey Vulture (3/9)

Red-Shouldered Hawk
Red-Tailed Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk (3/31)
Bald Eagle
American Woodcock (3/9)
Killdeer (3/8)

Mourning Dove
Barred Owl
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-Bellied Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Eastern Phoebe (3/9)
Blue Jay
American Crow
Tufted Titmouse
Black-Capped Chickadee
White-Breasted Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Eastern Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-Rumped Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush (3/30)
Northern Cardinal
Eastern Towhee (3/30)
Song Sparrow
American Tree Sparrow
White-Throated Sparrow
Field Sparrow

Fox Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Brown-Headed Cowbird (3/30)
Red-Winged Blackbird
American Goldfinch
Purple Finch
House Finch
Hermit Thrush
Pine Siskin
Gull (species unsure, likely Ring-Billed)

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