Birds, meteors flying around this month
t’s spring and the bird migration is in full swing. I haven’t noticed many newcomers to our bird feeder yet, but I was glad to finally have a flock of evening grosbeaks start visiting this winter.
A few robins have been spotted over the past couple weeks and their numbers keep increasing. I was surprised to see a couple geese flying over and noticed some others standing on one of the still very frozen Swedetown ponds.
Friends of mine have also reported the return of the Sandhill cranes. On top of Brockway Mountain there have been at least 200 bald eagles observed amongst several other raptors during this year’s annual Hawk Watch.
Although I’m not seeing many different varieties of returning birds, I have been hearing a lot of new songs coming from the fields and forest.
It seems that the birds have started to switch gears and think about mating and nesting. In the early light of the morning the woods are full of new sounds.
Just like every other spring, I find myself wondering who or what is making those sounds.
Sometimes I eventually recognize it as “that odd call blue jays make in the spring.” Other times I don’t recognize the calls but hope that I eventually will. If you think about it even the common robin has one of the more intricate songs in the spring. I’d probably appreciate it more if they didn’t decide to sing it right outside my bedroom window at first light.
Other than songs, the woodpeckers seem to be finding the loudest material they can peck to announce their presence and they do that intentionally.
On a different subject of sky activity, we will be having a new moon on the 18th of April.
This is good news for those of you that are planning on watching the Lyrids meteor shower. There will not be any light pollution from the moon to obscure the view.
The Lyrids are usually observable between the 16th and the 22nd of April, typically peaking around the 22nd. Meteors from the Lyrids typically occur near the constellation Lyra, thus the name.
You can expect up to 20 meteors per hour during the peak and on rare occasions they burst to a frequency of over 100 per hour. Lyrids are known for their bright shooting stars that often leave a lasting trail of smoke in their path.
They have even been known to cast shadows due to their brightness. So, if you find yourself outside at night, perhaps standing in a river dipping for smelt, remember to look up once in a while. You never know what you may see.
Next month will be another meteor shower knowns as the Aquarids.
As you might expect from the name, the majority of meteors radiate from the constellation Aquarius. This shower usually lasts from May 5th through the 7th and can also have up to 20 meteors per hour.
Unfortunately, the moon will be waning and still be pretty bright which may hamper your ability to observe this shower.