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Field Notes

Spring has sprung. Frogs are calling, flowers are blooming and the grass is growing. Newborn livestock and wildlife will soon be appearing as the trees burst out into a new coat of green. But one of the most dynamic and anticipated spring time arrivals is the world of birds.
The spring migration is in full swing and birds can be found everywhere. They are on the lawn, in the shrubbery, in the garden, on the ponds. They are in the air and noisily marking territory or sweetly singing to capture the interest of a new mate. They may be tapping or flapping, dancing or displaying, searching for cozy new areas or building exotic nests to catch the interest of a new partner.
The first check of nest boxes on the observatory revealed seven completed Bluebird nests, five of which already contained eggs. The rest of the 18 or so boxes will soon be occupied by other cavity nesters like tree swallows and possibly a few house wrens.
The hummingbird feeders are filled and hung on the back porch, but so far, no hummers have been seen. They will no doubt be showing up soon and will hungrily attack the feeders enmass as most are passing through on their way north. Some will stick around and raise their families here while the young will begin to show at the feeders in July.
The warbler migration should be on-going for the next week or two. These smallish birds quietly slip through the area –often at night – as they head to their nesting grounds in the mountains and areas much farther north. The males will be cloaked in their spring finery and showing bright yellows, rich browns and blues as they show off for the ladies.
Two pair of Wood ducks and a pair of Mallards have appeared at the wastewater ponds. Those hens will probably sit nests in other areas, but will march their young into the ponds by mid-to-late May. Last year, seven woodie hens brought their families in, and around 30 young ducks fledged from that group.
Spring Gobbler season began on Monday, the 27th. Hens should mostly be on the nest by now, but gobblers will still be looking for unmated females and could be enticed by a good call. Early reports say that calling has been light as gobblers select their favorite territories. It is possible that calling has been delayed by the prolonged cool, spring. After all, the service bloom appears to be about 10 days late as was the arrival of the spotted salamanders.
And something new for the successful turkey hunters, gobblers can be checked in electronically for the first time. Simply call 844-WVCHECK or log in to

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