Spring lives again on the pond

Red-winged blackbirdIt’s spring, and young men’s fancy turns to thoughts of attracting young women’s attention. One may be the best at what he does, but it’s of no consequence if first he doesn’t gain the attention of prospective suitors. Watching the spring show at the lake is all about the boys striving for attention.

I was reminded last weekend of a certain young man of my brood who exhibited much the same activity when spring called boys and girls to doff their furs and leggings in favor of more demonstrative attire. He did have a physique I had never enjoyed, and would daily go to the gym on Main Street to pump iron and build rivers of sweat. Girls, their hormones telling them to pay attention, stood at the plate glass window and admired his effort.

At the pond, the scene replayed. Young male Canada geese exhibited similar traits, as they strove to attract the attention of young ladies of the species. They strutted and puffed out their chests, and attempted to distract already wedded ladies to their cause. Mayhaps it was lack of a ring to identify their status that encouraged the guys to such extreme experimentation. Unfortunately for the young practitioners of the ancient art of woo, Canada geese generally mate for life, and the menfolk give little opportunity to interlopers.

A guarding male would stretch his neck along the surface, hurling invective at any young male having come too close. Often a chase ensued, with the intruder allowed to escape, taking with him only the clear message that there was not a place to waste his time.

The second most populous bird on the pond last weekend was the Mallard duck. Several pairs had clearly mated. Like the geese, males made it clear their unmated brethren should find other places to display their iridescent green and blue colors. I watch for several hours as one young Mallard attempted to insert himself into one wedded pair after another. Each time, the incensed male stood up on the water, puffed his chest and flexed his biceps, er, wings, and invited the interloper to conduct his efforts elsewhere.

Thus chastened, the intruder hustled away to find another potential target of his attention. Unfortunately, the ladies on that lake were all under the care of very jealous men-friends.

Red-winged blackbirds have taken abode among the cattails in the pond-side wetland. One particularly amorous young fellow perched in a tree near where I stood with my camera, his head uplifted, wings spread to display red and yellow epaulets with each warbling call to a potential sweetheart. Or maybe he was celebrating his prior success; he was not clear on that point.

Back home at the edge of the woods, Gray squirrels are busy chasing each other through the trees and across the grass. A Northern mockingbird has occasionally stopped by to perch on a fencepost. The dreaded English House sparrow population has set about housekeeping in two of the birdhouses closest to my house. And a fire engine red cardinal is chasing the object of his affections through the brush that marks the border between my home and theirs.

Of the four primary seasons, Spring is most exciting. The Flowering dogwood outside my window is turning a pastel green. Crocuses have popped up in places, and wild daffodils will soon be in bloom. Earthworms push there way to the surface, where American robins – many having stayed the winter in nearby apple orchards – pick the squirmies from the grass. Soon, there will be chicks clamoring for a share of the bounty.

After a shorter than normal winter rest, my place at the edge of the woods has come back to life.

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