Posts Tagged ‘vernal equinox’


Spring arrived today with the vernal equinox, officially March 20, 2014 at 12:57 PM in Ottawa. The first spring day was gray and overcast, and the landscape is still decidedly white. The temperature hovered around 0 Celsius, but a bitingly cold wind left no doubt that we will have to wait a bit longer for soft spring zephyrs.

I hadn’t seen another Red-winged Blackbird since my first sighting on the 15th, but this morning I heard several giving their chuck call in the treetops. Still no oak-a-lees. And then, this afternoon, as if they had been reading the calendar too, I spotted three robins.


Robins can occasionally be seen in cities or suburbia throughout the winter, but it would be unusual to spot one in our rural neighbourhood. They usually return a few days to a week after the first Red-winged Blackbirds.

These three were hanging out in the hedgerow beside the river, and may have been attracted by the buckthorn berries still available there.


The wind was so cold, I felt a little sorry for them, but they didn’t seem bothered. And in spite of the wind, puddles of melt water had formed on the surface of the river. Maybe warmer days really are ahead.


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The vernal equinox, marking the official beginning of spring, happened yesterday, Sunday at 7:21 P.M. EDT. In the northern hemisphere, the point when the hours of day and night, as recorded by the sunrise and sunset, are equal occurs a couple of days earlier. On March 18th, the sun rose at 7:10 AM and set at 7:12 PM for a total of 12 hours, 2 minutes and 5 seconds of sunlight.

The first day of spring here was snowy. The weekend was pleasant and sunny, if a bit chilly, and the ground was mostly free of snow. But by mid-morning today, the landscape was back to white. It doesn’t matter though. This minor setback will soon be history and it takes more than a dusting of snow to discourage the newly arrived migrants.


On the weekend, I tracked down one of the Song Sparrows (Melospiza melodia) that I could hear singing from the hedgerow. He flitted about the shrubbery in an avoidance tactic but I finally managed to catch him in a photograph.

This morning, Common Grackles (Quiscalus quiscula) joined the Red-winged blackbirds and Starlings at the feeder. Their voices joined those of Blue Jays and Cardinals and Robins, producing a grand cacophony of spring song.


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