This is the week that woodcock usually return to our neighborhood after spending the winter farther south in the U.S. Last year we heard the first "peenting" on March 12th. As we walked with Kodi around the block this morning (March 13th) just past 6:00 am, we heard the first woodcock peents of 2013. Much of the neighborhood still remains covered in snow, so the birds would have to search around for open ground, although they will peent and dance on snow. This morning, though, they seem to be limited to the few snow-free spots -- mainly the south facing edges of wet meadows and woods.
The snow is going quickly and I expect to hear more woodcock doing their spring dance at dawn and dusk in the days ahead. You can read my past posts on woodcock here and here.
Earlier this week I heard a killdeer and a red-winged blackbird. Today a paper wasp emerged from her winter hibernation and rested on our garage door. She was moving slowly so I was able to get close.
The northern paper wasp is dark, rust-brown in color with yellow bands on its abdomen. And look at that slender body with its tiny waist. Females have a rusty face, while males are yellowish. This is a new, young queen bee. The queens hatch in the fall, then emerge in spring after hibernating to start a new nest. All others -- males, female workers, and old queens -- die in the fall.
The paper wasp can be pesky if nesting in the wrong place around your living space, but they are fine predators of caterpillars in the garden and worthy of keeping around. And to see this new queen on March 13th is another sign that spring is on its way.