Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Chickadee's song says spring is coming!

The last few days, it has been clear that spring is on the way. The snow is melting quickly on the sidewalk, even when there is still a sharp wind. The sun is obviously stronger, and the days longer.

For someone like me, who loves to be outdoors, including in winter, who skis and snowshoes and hikes happily in the snow, but suffers what used to be called "cabin fever," and is now called Seasonal Affective Disorder, the long day and stronger sun is a welcome sign of spring. Despite my joy at a fresh snowfall and bright, cold days, so I can enjoy the snow, February is not my best month.

But today's springtime joy was hearing the chickadees in my neighborhood calling out to each other and searching out mates. I love chickadees, and don't mind the fact that they eat most of the seed in my feeders. They just seem like such sweet birds, not like the quarrelsome and seemingly sort of dumb sparrows. The chickadees will take one seed at a time and fly off to eat it on a branch, leaving room for another bird.

Most of the year the call of the chickadee is its name: chicka-dee-dee-dee. It is a little scratchy, though not unpleasant, and associated with the woods in my mind, a sound that I hear walking under pine trees, especially up north. But when they are looking for mates, the males have a song instead of a call. Fee-bee... fee-bee. Slow, the first note higher than the second. A bit lonely, but also hopeful.

And a clear sign that spring is coming.