signs of spring

March 13, 2017  •  4 Comments

I literally am unable to count how many times this month people have said to me variations of these questions or declaratives -  "Is it spring yet?"  "When is spring going to get here?"  "I cannot wait for spring!"  "I am so tired of winter." The equinox arrives next Monday, March 20, although meteorological spring (designated as March, April, and May) has technically already begun.  Not that the weather patterns always demonstrate that, especially in the eastern United States where a mammoth snow storm is in progress as I write.  

But here at 7,800 feet elevation on the piñon-juniper mesa, there are definitely signs of spring.  The birds certainly know the seasons are changing and it is high time to ponder mating and nesting.  The activity borders on frantic in the hours just before and after sunrise.  Red-shafted flickers are drilling on our wood burning stove pipes, both western and mountain bluebirds slurp water off the metal roof as the sun melts the frost, and the sandhill cranes that started their migration north in January, are much fewer in number as things settle in for serious life-producing activities.  

Another bird that flies in for a brief visit is the cedar waxwing - Bombycilla cedrorum.  At first blush, these spring breakers seem fairly nondescript because they usually fly in groups, making it difficult to see their markings. But if you are lucky enough to see them through binoculars or a moderate camera lens, they are stunning. Marked by masks that a painter might have applied with a very thin, delicate brush, their faces are like leaded glass.  Then the painter took a full brush, dipped it in yellow paint, and wiped it across their tailer feathers.  As a final touch, red was applied to the secondary flight feathers.  Exquisite.  

I was lucky enough to get a couple of morning shoots of the cedar waxwings. Exhibit # 1 - I would call this "What are you looking at?"

waxwing 3waxwing 3


In profile

waxwing 5waxwing 5

waxwing 1waxwing 1


Another feature is the topknot, flared nicely here.

waxwing 2waxwing 2


Two of ten in the yet-to-leaf New Mexico privet

waxwing 4waxwing 4

I will be watching for other signs of spring and hope that you are able to do so as well, with cameras in hand.


until next Monday,


a passion for the image@


Steve Immel(non-registered)
Thanks for your early spring entry, Daryl, and for weaving your tale from the pinon-juniper mesa. Cedar waxwings, mountain bluebirds and red-shafted flickers tell us that spring is upon us. The 67 degrees today in Taos confirms its arrival.
Catherine Sobredo(non-registered)
What a beautiful and cooperative model!
He or she is very handsome. Excellent and thrilling capture of the brief guest.
Terry Thompson(non-registered)
Great post Daryl. You nailed how we are feeling right now. Lovely having the birds back again. Warming thoughts ahead, TT
No comments posted.