November 30, 2010
Well, November has turned out to be a pretty warm month. Today, a light rain is falling but temperatures in most of the area are in the low 70’s. The wintering birds that have already arrived from the North are most likely thinking they may have moved too far South with these extremely warm temperatures. Over the past few weeks, numerous white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos have arrived and they are feasting on the bounty of seeds that have fallen and are continuing to fall from sweet gum trees. It is utterly amazing how many seeds are produced by one mature sweet gum tree but all one has to do is look on the ground below the trees and there are millions of tiny seeds mixed in with the leaves. I have a number of sweet gums in my yard and one hangs over my driveway. When I blow the leaves from the driveway, it is very obvious the massive amounts of seeds as they litterally cover the driveway. These seeds are refueling the little sparrows and juncos that have lost a lot of calories during their journey south. In addition to these species, the yellow-bellied sapsuckers have also arrived. Their sharp, squeaky door sounding call can be heard but most people do not recognize the call of these amazing little woodpeckers. They are the woodpeckers that drill parallel rows of holes in trees, especially maples but other tree species may show signs of their drilling behavior in finding food.
Also, today, with the light rain falling, a lone spring peeper (frog) is calling from my backyard. They have a beautiful whistle that the males produce to attract females. As we get further into the winter, spring peepers and upland chorus frogs will become more frequently heard during 50 degree rains. In addition, marbled salamanders are moving to areas adjacent to wetlands where they are depositing eggs and the little gnomes of the forest, the red-backed, zig-zag and Webster’s salamanders are just beginning to surface as the ground temperature cools. These little salamanders have spent the last 7 months underground and they surface in late November and remain active until April when the ground once again is too warm for their liking.
Spring Peepers Marbled Salamander
In the very near future, the sandhill crane flocks will put in an appearance as they are migrating south heading Okefenokee Swamp or into North Florida where they will spend the winter. Their bugling calls often announce their arrival long before they can actually be seen as their calls travel long distances. They migrate in the famous V formation that is utilized by many large species, especially waterfowl, like ducks, geese and swans. Occasionally many sandhill crane flocks come together and you may witness well over 100 of these very large birds, flying in what appears to be random circling. They are seeking a favorable altitude where the winds can be favorable for long distance flying and at times, they may be several thousands of feet in the air.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and keep your feeders stocked.