Feb 24, 2011…….this is Atlanta during the 3rd week of February.
On Monday, Feb 14th, (Valentine’s Day), I received a call from my sister, Karen Heinz to wish me happy Valentine’s Day and to ask if I had seen the sandhill cranes that she and her husband Alan had observed only minutes before she called me. I live just south of Karen and Alan (in Marietta, Ga.), and typically, the north migration of cranes is over my house then about 5 minutes later, the birds are over their house. Well, the very same thing occurred on the 15th, and once again I had not heard nor seen the cranes but they had them over their house in the early afternoon. On Wed. & Thurs., I did hear and observe sandhill cranes over my yard and on Friday I observed cranes as I drove on Ga. 400, near Roswell. So, cranes were moving northward over the entire week. The sandhill cranes are moving from their wintering areas from North Central Florida and South Georgia and will eventually return to their breeding grounds in Michigan, Wisconsin and Canada. The call of the sandhill crane is a loud bugle like rattling call and the birds are very vocal, communicating to each other during migration. At times, a number of flocks may be in the sky at one time and I have seen them numerous times whirling in circles, as birds join up to find favorable winds before they once again peel off in typical V formation to continue their journey North. So, over the next few weeks, keep a vigil listening for the wonderful calls of sandhills then go outside to witness these amazing birds as they are passing over the Atlanta region.
Sandhill cranes migrating over Cobb County, Georgia. The calls of sandhills are often heard and searching for the source of the calls will frequently result in observations of these amazing birds.
On Monday, Feb. 21, I was cycling on the Silver Comet Trail in Cobb County. In the early afternoon, the barometer was falling and the warm temperatures (almost 70), triggered some very large choruses of Upland Chorus Frogs (Pseudacris feriarum) as well as a few spring peepers (Pseudacris crucifer). It is a reminder of spring but unfortunately, many areas where frogs and salamanders should be breeding at this time….are dry. It has been a very dry late winter and without the rains, spotted salamanders and chorus frogs have not yet bred, so it was very pleasing to hear the upland chorus frogs anticipating rain…….which, by the way, the rains did not occur.
(Right) Spring peepers in amplexus. These little frogs produce a beautiful whistle while the upland chorus frog (right) produces a guttural whaaaauh that has a slight trill.
Also today, Feb. 21st, I have daffodils in flower in my yard. The bright yellow flowers add color to my otherwise fairly brown gardens. Soon, many native flowers will appear including hepatica, toadshade trilliums, bloodroot, celandine poppy and Virginia bluebells. I really love this time of year when everyday there are new and exciting discoveries popping through the leaf litter after many months of subterranean dormancy.