First Flowers and Spring Birds

Crocus Blossom at the Horicon Marsh

Crocus Blossom

Early blooming Crocuses signal the arrival of spring at the Horicon Marsh! The blossoms close at night or on cloudy days, like today.

Crocus Blossom at the Horicon Marsh

Saffron, which is used to color and flavor food, is made from the dried stigmas of Crocus sativus.  About 7,000 flowers are needed to produce 3 ounces of saffron, making it one of the most costly spices by weight.

Male American Robin at the Horicon Marsh

Male American Robin

The quintessential bird of spring is the American Robin.  The male has a darker head than the female. He has a brick-red breast. American Robins can have three broods in one year.  They typically eat earthworms early in the day and fruit later in the day.  If they eat honeysuckle berries exclusively, they may become intoxicated.  Thankfully, I can’t say I’ve seen that!

Female American Robin at the Horicon Marsh

Female American Robin

The head of the female American Robin blends in with the lighter gray back feathers.  Her breast is orange with a bit of white.  I talked to someone recently who lives in the city and he had no idea what a robin looks like.  I was shocked.  We are so blessed to have the Horicon Marsh with its plentiful birds and wildlife.

Ring-necked Ducks at the Horicon Marsh

Ring-necked Ducks

Ring-necked Ducks swim in the water near the auto tour.  The auto tour, off of Highway 49, is still closed to vehicles.  I passed another photographer as I was walking along the road.  She said, “I love this place.”  I do, too.

Meadowlark at the Horicon Marsh

Eastern Meadowlark

The photographer recognized the melodious whistle of the Meadowlark.  He fans his tail as he sings.  Eastern Meadowlarks can sing several variations of their song.

Red-winged Blackbird at the Horicon Marsh

Red-winged Blackbird

The Red-winged Blackbird fanned his wing showing his colors as he sang.

Pied-billed Grebe at the Horicon Marsh

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebes always look happy.  They can trap water in their feathers, giving them great control over their buoyancy. They can sink deeply or stay just at or below the surface, exposing as much or as little of the body as they wish. They dive submerging their entire body to hide or to eat.  He was spotted swimming alongside of Highway 49.

Killdeer at the Horicon Marsh

Killdeer

After checking out the auto tour, I headed to the Education and Visitor Center on Highway 28.  This was a popular hang out for Killdeer today.  This one found a bit of stick in the parking lot, which he ate.  I’m guessing it didn’t digest too well.

Killdeer at the Horicon Marsh

Someone got their feathers ruffled.

Killdeer at the Horicon Marsh

Perhaps, it was because three can be a crowd.

Milkweed at the Horicon Marsh

Milkweed

This Milkweed was behind the building.  I liked the texture.

Song Sparrow at the Horicon Marsh

Song Sparrow

I also liked the texture and color of the fence post the Song Sparrow used as his podium for singing.  Often, Mondays are not our favorite day of the week.  But if we get to spend it at the Horicon Marsh, it may be the best day of the week!

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