Our Spring Calendar

3-21-10 A rocky meadow with thousands of Goldfields


Our local birds–including some that winter as far south as the Amazon Basin and make the trek back to Marin each year–travel thousands of miles on a clock that’s far more precise than the bursting of flowers. Flowering varies with local climate, sun exposure and the vagaries of weather. Birds transcend those.

Based on observations collected over a century, here are first-of-season (FOS) dates for some of our familiar nesting birds. The data is from Dave Shuford’s Marin County Breeding Bird Atlas, but I found it on Daniel Edelstein’s wonderful bird-oriented website: http://www.warblerwatch.com/CABirdArrivalTimes.htm. This is fun information to put in your yearly calendar or print on a card for your wallet. You might even make a scientific contribution by watching FOS dates drift earlier under the impact of climate change.

Feb  5     Allen’s Hummingbird
Feb 13    Tree Swallow
Feb 21    Violet-green Swallow
Mar  4     Orange-crowned Warbler
Mar  7     Rough-winged Swallow
Mar 11    Barn Swallow
Mar 18    Cliff Swallow
Mar 24    American Goldfinch
Mar 25    Pacific-slope Flycatcher
.                 Warbling Vireo
.                 Wilson’s Warbler
Mar 28    Brown-headed Cowbird
Mar 29    Hooded Oriole
Apr   3    Bullock’s Oriole
Apr   5    Western Kingbird
Apr   7    Purple Martin
Apr 13    Western Tanager
.                Black-headed Grosbeak
Apr 14    Black-throated Gray Warbler
.                 Chipping Sparrow
Apr 17    Olive-sided Flycatcher
Apr 18    Yellow Warbler
.                 MacGillivray’s Warbler
Apr 21    Grasshopper Sparrow
Apr 26    Swainson’s Thrush
.                Ash-throated Flycatcher
Apr 28    Lazuli Bunting
May15   Western Wood Pewee

As this is written, our year-round residents are full of seasonal change too. Quail are paired up and have left their coveys. The little winter flocks of chickdees are breaking up, most often with the resident pair that provided its nucleus last fall starting to set up housekeeping and the wandering young of the year who joined them for the rainy season setting out to find their own mates. And for a month or more now, the skies have rung with the exuberant kee-eer, kee-eer of courting Red-shouldered Hawks.



  1. nadi said,

    March 26, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    thank you for taking me to your other world. it is indeed very soothing to my greenery-starved alaskan soul to look at all the life blooming in california, i am starting to be a trillium fan. 🙂

    • billnoble said,

      March 27, 2010 at 7:02 am

      Good morning, Nadi. How strange to have your comment pop up in notifications just as I’m responding to emails about a trip to the remotest parts of northern Alaska that we’re considering. Welcome back to California, if only in images. Wish me the time and space this summer to journey northward!

  2. nadi said,

    March 27, 2010 at 8:14 am

    & good morning to you! really, to the remotest parts of northern alaska … the tundra… prudhoe bay? getting ready for polar bear, fox and caribou? that will be an amazing trip (in summer! :)).

    my favourite part of alaska from what i have seen so far is the kenai peninsula down in / around homer and the area across kachemak bay. there is only a few people living across kachemak bay and else it is all parks and glaciers, and the shore line is breathtakingly beautiful, not even to speak of the sea life and birds there in summer. last year however we had redoubt volcano fuming furiously and ended up in a sulfur cloud while trying to catch our halibut from the ocean out there, that was breathtaking in a different sense :). the volcano has been quiet since then though.

    i plan on being in germany may – 4 july or so – it is white asparagus season then, yum! if u pass through anchorage after that and have a little time left over to meet please let me know i would love to show you around the city area. you have probably been here before so you know there is lots of nature around here, too. if the boo was a bit older already i would try to hike along for a bit with you up north. something hopefully reserved for a future day, if not only for the north.

    my best to tina & brendan, and you bill!

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