April 2: Mother Nature shared her own version of 'April Fools'- more snow.

April 5: Many bird species are coming into their bright breeding plumage and we've had large mixed-flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds & Common Grackles feeding around the property. A noisy group of birds, but the noise is so very welcomed. Eastern Cottontail Rabbits are usually seen feeding/playing at dusk each day. Snowshowers continue off and on, winter is hanging on with a firm grip this year.

April 6: Two Common Loons returned to our nearby lake - a very welcome sight. We have had a good movement of waterfowl in the area- Common Mergs., Bufflehead, Goldeneye, Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Ducks and more..

April 7: At least 8 Common Loons have flown over the property since late yesterday afternoon- we found them on many area lakes today along with many species of ducks. Despite the ongoing snow-showers & cold weather, we're enjoying spring migration. A very determined & hungry Sharp-shinned Hawk has spent the afternoon on the property, giving chase to many smaller birds. Their airial displays are breath-taking and they move through the trees with such agility and speed. 2 Dark-eyed Juncoes also visited the feeding area today; we haven't had them on the property since late fall.

April 8: Today brought our first Osprey sighting of the season- we also checked a nearby Osprey nest, but it is still empty.

Finally.. a much needed break in the weather. Sighted a toad species hopping across a nearby road, a good sign that the frost is coming out of the ground. Most of our area lakes are now ice-free and the rain suits American Coots & Pied-billed Grebes just fine.

April 10: A gorgeous spring day brought our first Red Admiral butterflies of the season to our yard. We also had our first sighting of Wood Ducks here on the property today. They were checking over the many woodpecker cavities in the snags.

April 11: Warm southerly winds brought many new birds to the area today- Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers & Eastern Phoebes entertained us around the yard.. what a delight to hear the beautiful & enthusiastic fee-BEE call again.

The White-breasted Nuthatch are really into their mating behaviors, fanning their tailfeathers and calling constantly- and 2 gorgeous Red-tailed Hawks tumbled & dove together over the property in an awesome mating display. We also sighted Northern Flickers, Tree Swallows & a Belted Kingfisher nearby. First sighting of a Comma Butterfly in the yard as well.

April 12: The woods were filled with the chorus of many frogs last night- the spring peepers have emerged and it's so wonderful to hear them again. A juvenile Turkey Vulture roosted for awhile in a large beech behind the garage late this afternoon. Although we've observed them soaring above the property many times, this is the first time I've sighted them actually perched in our trees. Regardless of how many view these birds, I find them quite fascinating and impressive- quietly powerful birds that glide and soar with ease.

Spring Peepers

April 13: Sighted our first Yellow-rumped Warblers of the season today- Many butterflies have now emerged and the woods are full of flittering Mourning Cloaks, Commas, Painted Ladies & Red Admirals.

April 14: Yellow-rumpeds flitted through the property for a good part of the morning then again in the afternoon. Wood Warblers are always challenging since they never sit still long and keep our id skills honed well. We spent the afternoon birding Rifle River Recreation area- the chorus of the many frogs & toads was literally deafening. Birds were abundant, including a flock of delightful Ruby-crowned Kinglets that were gorging on the no-see-ums.

On the way home we sighted a Ruffed Grouse displaying. He was in a trancelike state and we literally had to scare him into a ditch so he wouldn't strut across the open road into traffic.

April 15: We rescued a Blandings Turtle north of Lupton today. It was sitting on the shoulder of the road along with a small Painted Turtle- probably heading for the lowland swamp/water nearby. Record high temps. in the low 80's today.

April 16: The high temperatures continued today, mid- 80's and very unseasonably warm for this time of year. We discovered a Blue-spotted Salamander in the crawlspace of the house today- he felt like a cold gummy bear in my hand. We moved him to a wet and shaded area of the property.

April 17: Had our first Odonata species on the property today- wasn't able to get an id, but hopefully this is the beginning of a productive dragonfly season.

April 18: The forest floor is carpeted in beautiful Round-lobed Hepatica that have come into blossom. Beautiful & delicate wildflowers.

April 19: Today brought our first seasonal sighting of a Red-headed Woodpecker on our property- a beautiful male. Song Sparrows appear to be nest building on the north side of the garage, and their songs are absolutely wonderful. Tufted Titmice are stealing woodchips from inside our owl box for their nests, and the Black-capped Chickadees are busy in the nestboxes.

Northern Flickers, Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers are all mating, displaying and drumming. The trillium are popping out all over the forest floor, ready to blossom very soon.

April 20: Spent most of the day birding in Rifle River Recreation Area- birds were abundant with many first seasonal sightings: Brown Thrasher, Swamp Sparrow and we had a beautiful Hermit Thrush within the cedar swamps near Pintail Pond.

We also sighted a Golden Eagle while enjoying the many Myrtle Warblers and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers near the Ranch Campground area- our first for this county.

April 21: We sighted yet another gorgeous male Ruffed Grouse displaying nearby today- so as not to disturb him, we moved the truck further away and turned off the ignition. We were rewarded with the priviledge of watching him on his drumming log while a very camoflauged female sat not 15 feet away. The Marsh Marigolds (cowslip) were in blossom along the trail, but tonights' lows are supposed to dip down near the low 20's with snow in the forecast. This cold front really pushed the Yellow-rumped Warblers through the property today- also had our first Yellow Warbler- what a beauty.

April 22: We received 4 inches of new snow overnight. Brown-headed Cowbirds made their first appearance in the yard. As is the norm before and after a storm, the feeders were busy today with many birds, including brightly colored American Goldfinch and Purple Finch.

April 24: The Yellow-rumped Warblers continue to come through the property in waves. It's going to become a bit more difficult to keep up with this online journal as spring progresses- so many birds and butterflies, so little time. Speaking of butterflies, we had our first Spring Azures today near the river access.

The male and female Ruffed Grouse were still in the same area today and the male was still strutting his stuff well. We can hear at least 4 Sandhill Cranes to the east of our property. Evidently they're staying near one of the small lakes in the large tract of woods. Inaccessible for us to view them, but it's a treat to hear them. A large female Cooper's Hawk has made many sorties around the yard in the past few days- at one point she was hopping from log to log, eyeing the many black squirrels, but left without a meal. This time. Also rescued a Dark-eyed Junco out of the garage today. That'll teach me to not sweep up spilled seed.

April 26: Freezing temps. are keeping the wildflowers from blooming- it snowed off and on all day yesterday with more predicted for tomorrow. The wood warblers are pushing through our property in waves- today they were gleaning bugs not only from the trees but from the ground. Sighted our first Savannah Sparrows of the season nearby and we were treated to the full courtship display of a tom Wild Turkey right in the backyard.

April 28: Cold and rainy (and even some of that awful white stuff falling) but the birds continue to move through en mass. Our first Black-throated Green Warblers have arrived and the trees are literally teeming with so many singing birds. The White-throated Sparrows are still here in their stunning spring plumage.

April 30: Although dissapointed that the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have yet to appear, a beautiful Pine Warbler has been feeding on our log suet feeder for the past few days. Very friendly bird, he came very close to taking suet from my fingers today. He tosses his head straight back and trills for all he's worth- and he's worth so much. This is the first time in over 20 years of feeding birds that we've witnessed a warbler visiting our feeders. What a treat.

Additional 2002 Monthly Journals: March May June July August September October November December