Well, that’s exactly what February does to me.
While I can’t quite unravel all the reasons behind my February smiles, I do have some ideas. To begin with, the word February actually reminds me of a former, rather grim, teacher who drilled my classmates and me on the correct pronunciation of this second month of the year.
Perhaps, it was the fun way I learned to roll my Rs
or the terrifying flashbacks of my teacher’s pursed lips that make me smile every February. But, it could also be the festive palette of Valentine’s Day colors or the sweet memories of school parties with unworkable scissors, dried paste and secret messages written on handmade cards. Then again, it just might be the subtle, but palpable stirrings of a not-so-far-off spring that curl the corners of my mouth.
Whatever the reasons, I’m always thankful for February and happy to report - I’m not alone.
As winter slowly loosens it grip, my recent Jeffrey Woods walks have revealed an overall different mood in the forest and a frenzied increase in bird activity and chatter. The announcement of winter’s diminishing power is being tweeted throughout the forest. The birds know it and so do I.
Blue Jays: With perky, tufted crests and beautiful blue plumage, Blue Jays are one of the prettiest and noisiest birds within a February woods. A definite smile maker.
Sparrows: While sparrows are plentiful during all seasons, I love watching these plump little birds in February as they flit, scratch and peck the ground for food. These busy little creatures fill every moment with a full day’s work.
Cardinals: A big shout out for Ohio’s official state bird. Both the brilliant red males and brownish, red-fringed females are simply gorgeous against the snowy backdrop of February. Every year, they get my vote for the Best Valentine’s Day Bird in the Woods.
Tufted Titmouse: This little, gray bird looks somewhat like a miniature female Cardinal. Its large black eyes, white underbelly, small crest and eager expression make it a real woodland sweetheart.
Chickadees: These tiny birds with black caps and white cheeks are another woodland gymnast. February is a great month to watch them hopping up & down and all around the trees.
White-Breasted Nuthatches: These perky little birds have a gray-blue back, white face and dark grayish cap. I’m always amazed at their agility to creep (and I do mean creep) along tree trunks and branches in search of food.
Canada Geese: Who doesn’t love these opinionated, cantankerous birds? Unless, of course, they’re defecating in your office parking lot or chasing you down like a mad dog when you breach their personal space. This winter during sunset walks at Jeffrey Woods, I was frequently entertained by honking, V-shaped flocks flying overhead along Alum Creek. Be forewarned: This February, communities of lively geese and their irritable personalities have begun gathering in Alum Creek’s flood plain for their annual eating & breeding frenzy.
(PS: I’m expecting a note of thanks from that squirrel for my part in saving his/her life.
The American Robin
AKA: The Harbinger of Spring
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