Arboretum: Signs of Spring and Red-Breasted Nuthatches

We have endured a colder-than-normal winter in Boston and so any sign of spring is much celebrated. On March 1, we counted over a hundred American robins near Meadow Road in the Arboretum. While the number might be unusual, robins in and of themselves are not a true sign of spring. Many overwinter in the area.

Today, however, we saw and heard our first male red-winged blackbirds. These birds are a more reliable indicator that winter is waning. Coincidentally, today was the nicest day we have had all year, with balmy temperatures and clear skies. The cold will soon return, but so will more of the red-winged blackbirds, and spring will win out.

We went for a longer walk on this beautiful day and saw a first for us: a red-breasted nuthatch. Two of them, actually. The first kept flying to a hole in a trimmed limb of a Scotch pine (Pinus sylvestris).

red-breasted nuthatch on Scotch pine
red-breasted nuthatch near hole in Scotch pine

It stuck its head inside, possibly preparing a nest for breeding season.

red-breasted nuthatch in Scotch pine
red-breasted nuthatch possibly building a nest in Scotch Pine

A second nuthatch scampered across the bark of another pine, possibly collecting resin. According to Cornell’s All About Birds site, red-breasted nuthatches collect resin globules from conifers and plaster them around the entrance to their nest, possibly to keep out predators or competitors.

red-breasted nuthatch collecting pine resin
red-breasted nuthatch collecting pine resin. note the cowlicked feathers on its wing.

Complete e-bird checklist.

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