Editor’s note:  This article was written by Nina Pierpont at this time of year, 8 years ago.  It’s worth re-reading.
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 Pine warbler (photo by Bill Garland)

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— Nina Pierpont, MD, PhD

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This is a blog for people who like to go outside and see what’s coming up or coming back or singing now that it’s spring. Please add your own observations and pictures, of whatever kind of animal, plant, or fungus you enjoy finding or watching.
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April 19, 2008:

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We’ve had three days of warm, sunny weather. Spring migrants ride winds from the south, so they tend to come in on warmer days. There’s been a burst of early migrants the last few days. The Wood frogs, which sleep away the winter, frozen in the leaf litter, have thawed out and woken up—and they’re cackling.

I like to follow the west side of Salmon River from the Willow Street Bridge, via Reservoir St., to the bottom of the high school track.  Then through the woods behind Franklin Academy, over the Pinnacle on the trail above the river, to the fields and mixed woods on the west side of the river.

This is a great time of year for seeing birds, because there aren’t any leaves, so you can see things, and the black flies aren’t out yet. During migration you can also see things which don’t breed here, but are heading further north. When they’re hungry and coming through in big flocks, they come right into the village. Birds don’t always stick to their usual habitats when they’re migrating.

I bird by ear. I ran into some people in the woods today who wanted to know how to learn bird calls. I’ve learned the most from tracking down unknown sounds until I can see the bird, but recordings are helpful too, especially if you don’t listen to too many at once. I thought if I posted pictures and calls of the birds that can be heard and seen in and around Malone right now, day by day as they come back, this would be a limited dose way to learn about what lives right here.

These birds are migrants who don’t winter here, who reappeared over the last three or four days:
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Yellow-bellied sapsucker (photo by Marie Read)

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Yellow-bellied sapsucker (above).  These are medium-sized woodpeckers and very common in our area. They are noisy and social, drumming in a distinctive, irregular pattern, with squeaky calls.  (More information on this species can be found here.)

Here is a recording by  Lang Elliot, an outstanding recorder of bird songs and other natural sounds, from Ithaca, NY. This and the other Lang Elliott recordings in this article are from his Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, a 3-CD set of the songs, calls, and drumming sounds of 372 species of birds from the eastern United States.  

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