There have been numerous days in the local environs when the temperature and other conditions express a wintery condition rather that anything like a balmy day of spring. Snow has been on the ground. Even the Cherry County commissioners discussed a local paradigm: once the Long-billed Curlew arrive there will be three more instances when their foot-marks will be in snow upon the land.
And then there was a discussion of “diddle birds” at the commissioner meeting on April 25. This was an instance of where the behavior of Wilson’s Phalarope was obvious on a home place residence and their action resulted in an attribution that has been known for a Wood Lake family for years. This is an obvious derivation of “whirly bird” as phalaropes spin around to activate things so they can better find what they feed upon.
The diddle bird discussion occurred at the 25 April meeting of the Cherry County Commissioners. There was also a telling discourse about the Frederick Peak attribution for the new local golf course.
Sometimes government action in the commissioner room reverts to a discourse on specifics and particulars. This is some appreciated dialogue where it might be possible that each person present learns something.
Anyway! Upon the multi-distance walk to-and-from my humble residence, there were subtle calls of migratory transients prominently heard. It soon became obvious that the sounds were expressions by White-crowned Sparrows lingering in the vicinity as they appreciated local conditions before their eventual departure to the lands further north of Nebraska. The Dark-eyed Junco were gone away by the last days of April.
The local bunch of the White-crowned Sparrow have been a special sort of wild bird life of this land with seed which upon they feed were very active on 25-28 April, and not only in suitable places north of Valentine but also a fewer number within the heart city. Hours could be spent in an effort to convey what each of these colorful itty-bits of wild birds are doing as their behavior could be constrained into research protocol and result in a scientific study.
Alas, there is no birdology scientist – and there is no known person that wants to be a known bird-watcher or even an ornithologist – that will ever study the dates of occurrence, number of birds present, habitat features, time of occurrence and other minutiae associated with the occurrence of sparrows and so many other special avian species that strive as they survive their time in the Valentine vicinity.
There is however a great appreciation of these vivid bits of wild birds by someone or others with an interest in the outdoors and its wonders. For the small sparrows, an identification can be obvious because of the great white stripe on the crown of their head. Once an id is known, particular attention can be given to their prominent antics. It appears that they feed on seeds as noticed by their well-done land scratching behavior – mimicked by a couple of Wild Turkey hens in the evening – and skulking among the ground vegetation. Nearby at some time during the day, there were also one or two of the big Eurasian Collared Dove, some blackbirds of more than one sort or size and the little finches marked with red plumage.
When some finely colored White-crowned Sparrows occur in numbers mere feet away during a day, and then many more are so subsequently active, and then again, these are times for a bird watcher to appreciate, again and again. While these sparrows have been most appreciated at a country-scape they also skulk amidst some bits of unkempt foliage within the heart city.
There was nothing nice when a couple of the birds bounced off the big north window of my shack. They have been so active outside and it is a sorrowful situation when they want to carry on and there is an artificial construct which is a blunt danger. No deaths occurred, thankfully.
The sparrow routines were something to appreciate while temperatures were winter-like, with cloudy skies prevalent and the benevolent days of spring were missing in latter April. Even as weather conditions changed and were more temperate, a few of these birds continued to occur into early May. During the first couple of days of May numbers were similar, but then the extent of occurrence lessened. By the day when the 4th be with the birds, very few were noticed among the vegetation and foraging places where they had been previously prominent.
These wonderful bits of bird life have an actually limited indicative coloration for their plumage. It is mostly associated with their head, as their front exterior has no color. Their rather drab colored lower back also has a lack of distinctive marks that might be useful to determine any indicatory marks of particular identification.
White-crowned Sparrow have been an obvious indicator of the season.