As the cold, quiet season begins to lose its grip and inches toward the north, nature's varied noisemakers are greeting the first signs of spring. Morning birdsong, led by robins, cardinals and Carolina wrens, has a fervor not heard since mid September; even blue jays are tuning up their musical voice, in sharp contrast to their raucous shrieks of winter. Not to be ignored, northern flickers are practicing their first, tentative calls of the season which, by March, will explode into loud, hysterical monologues.
Out in the wetlands, male red-winged blackbirds will soon begin their incessant song of spring and, by the end of the month, upland chorus frogs and spring peepers will dominate the airwaves. In the open countryside, red-tailed hawks have paired off, delivering their sharp mating cries as they cavort above the fields and meadows. And, as if on cue, the first wavering flocks of snow geese are passing over the Heartland, their high-pitched calls echoing from the cold, February sky.
This varied audio of spring will intensify through June as avian migrants and summer residents stream into the American Midwest and a host of amphibians add their voices to the chorus. Then, as heat and humidity build in July, the noise will gradually fade; by mid summer, only the insects will have the energy to sing.