Bird list & natural events, April 2014

As one might expect, April threw a little bit of everything at us, from rain & hail to deep freeze to hot dry days to absurdly splendid ones. Lots of birds showing up, lots of animals becoming active, lots of plants and trees springing to life. It’s a good month for photography and outdoor distraction, so this will be a fun photo essay of things we’ve seen as part of our normal lives working the land.

April began with some heavy rain, almost 4″ in 24 hours, though far less than the nearly 7″ received in southern Boone County.  Falling on cold, dormant soil, this caused some impressive erosion in the woods, but our permanent beds with mulch and sod aisles held up pretty well. The network of vole tunnels provided a form of tiling, with several holes pumping out water like a spring!


It may not feel like it, but the month continues our long-running dry trend, particularly in terms of soil moisture.  The early heavy rain mostly ran off toward the Gulf rather than soaking in, and up here we haven’t received much else. Technically it was an above-average month, but that obscures an on-the-ground reality that greening trees & grasses are quickly absorbing the “just-average” precipitation without changing the 5+ month drought we’re in. We finished with a series of drizzly days that felt wet, but actually didn’t produce much accumulation. Don’t be fooled; drought is still here for many farmers, especially those who weren’t right under the various paths of thunderstorms.

Then we had the deep freeze, a night which went well into the 20s and did some minor crop damage while forcing us to put in a bunch of effort covering/uncovering crops to avoid more impact. In the end, it scared us more than it hurt us and left some pretty ice crystals on flowers and pear tree buds.april_natural_2

Spring finally began to arrive with the first wildflowers, though some early plants also suffered from the hard freeze. april_natural_3

Interesting insects began to appear.april_natural_4

Snakes have been really active in the last half of this month, including the Prairie Kingsnake and Yellow-Bellied Racer seen below. Other observed species include Black Rat Snake, Prairie Ring-necked Snake, and more.april_natural_5

Other critters are getting down to business, like this poorly-located Carolina Wren nest, and this resplendent male Three-Toed Box Turtle.april_natural_6

A few hours spent exploring our stream with some friends’ families produced a few marvelous discoveries, including a crayfish and these two tropically-colored darters.april_natural_7

A somewhat low bird count for this month likely reflects the cold spring. Many species actually arrived a bit earlier than last year, but others we never saw at all.

2014 2013 2012 2011
Great Blue Heron x x x x
Green Heron x
Snow Goose x
Canada Goose x x x x
Great Egret x x ?
Wood Duck x x x x
Osprey x
Bald Eagle x
Turkey Vulture x x x x
Red-Shouldered Hawk x x x x
Red-Tailed Hawk x x x x
Broad-Winged Hawk x 4/8 x x
Cooper’s Hawk x ?
Sharp-shinned Hawk x
American Kestrel x
American Woodcock x x
Wild Turkey x x x
Killdeer x x x
Mourning Dove x x x x
Barred Owl x x x x
Great Horned Owl x
Whip-poor-will 4/18 4/29 x x
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird x x
Belted Kingfisher x x x
Red-Bellied Woodpecker x x x x
Downy Woodpecker x x x x
Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker x x x
Northern Flicker x x x
Pileated Woodpecker x x x x
Eastern Phoebe x x x x
Great-Crested Flycatcher 4/26 x x
White-Eyed Vireo 4/22 4/25 x x
Red-Eyed Vireo 4/30 x
Yellow-Throated Vireo x
Blue Jay x x x x
American Crow x x x x
Fish Crow x x
Tufted Titmouse x x x x
Black-Capped Chickadee x x x x
White-Breasted Nuthatch x x x x
Carolina Wren x x x x
House Wren 4/18 4/18 x x
Golden-Crowned Kinglet x 4/1 x
Ruby-Crowned Kinglet 4/3 4/1 x x
Blue-Grey Gnatcatcher 4/6 4/9 x x
Eastern Bluebird x x x x
American Robin x x x x
Wood Thrush 4/23 4/29 x x
Hermit Thrush x x
Swainson’s Thrush x
Grey Catbird x x
Brown Thrasher 4/3? 4/3 x x
European Starling x
Cedar Waxwing x x x
Northern Parula 4/12 4/14 x x
Blue-Winged Warbler 4/29? x x
Chestnut-Sided Warbler ?
Golden-Winged Warbler 4/30 x
Nashville Warbler 4/26 4/28 x x
Prairie Warbler 4/26 ?
Kentucky Warbler 4/28 4/30 x x
Tennessee Warbler 4/30 x
Black-and-White Warbler x
Yellow-Rumped Warbler x x x x
Yellow-Throated Warbler 4/10 x x
Black-Throated Green Warbler 4/27 4/30
Orange-Crowned Warbler 4/30
Ovenbird 4/18 4/27 x x
Louisiana Waterthrush x x x x
Common Yellowthroat x x
Summer Tanager 4/21 4/30 x x
Scarlet Tanager 4/26 4/30 x x
Rose-Breasted Grosbeak 4/30 x
Northern Cardinal x x x x
Indigo Bunting 4/29 x x
Eastern Towhee 4/6 x x x
Song Sparrow x x x
American Tree Sparrow x
White-Throated Sparrow x x x x
Field Sparrow x x x x
Fox Sparrow x
Chipping Sparrow 4/15 x x
Dark-eyed Junco x x x
Brown-Headed Cowbird x x x x
Baltimore Oriole 4/30
Red-Winged Blackbird x x x
Purple Finch x
American Goldfinch x x x x
Species count 60 67 63 69

One thought on “Bird list & natural events, April 2014

  1. Love reading your observations re life on the land. Thank you for inspiring others.