Colorful transformation underway
ESCANABA – Catch a glimpse of color!
Upper Michigan’s black and white scenery has transformed overnight.
Gone are the etchings of black and grey like Ansell Adams old-time photographs.
A rainbow of color has erupted outside. From a black and white 1950’s TV show, we have changed the channel to a megapixel of vibrant color.
Even the Black-capped Chickadee and the polka-dotted woodpeckers of winter, who were such good friends, have been joined by birds of more joyous colors.
One of the marvels of May in the north country, is green-up, growth and the return of many bright breeding populations of birds.
After a long, snowy winter like we just had, we are thrilled to see shoots, sprouts, fiddle-head ferns, yellow dandelions and marsh marigolds growing along the roadside.
Our feathered friends are happily mating. The male Goldfinches’ plumage turns bright, mustard yellow for romance. Red-breasted robins have returned and found nesting spots in our backyards. Orange and black orioles sing from the treetops.
And a slice of heavenly blue sky has descended to the forest floor. This feather “blue” fragment is known as the indigo bunting. The male of this species is iridescent blue. Much bluer than the Eastern bluebird or the blue jay, the Indigo Bunting looks like a metallic bird-shaped ornament on a Christmas tree.
Not often seen because this bird likes to dwell in the canopy of the forest, its song is a summertime favorite. The Indigo Bunting visits bird feeders from time to time, delighting the watchers who see them. The female bunting is a gray-brown color with a tiny fleck of blue on her wings.
Back from their winter in Mexico are the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. These birds return to Michigan in early May to stake out a nesting territory.
The males make a metallic-sounding “chink” sound in the hardwoods. His handsome red bib looks like a splotch of blood draining down his white breast. Much flashier than his cousins, the evening grosbeaks, rose-breasted grosbeaks are only summer residents.
Mrs. Grosbeak is of coarse beige and white in order not to draw too much attention to the eggs as she incubates them.
Slate Juncos (grey winter birds) have given way to scarlet tanagers and Purple Martins and all of the songbirds of summer.
The lifeless grey tree branches are budding out with red, grey and green catkins. The very ground below our feet is turning purple with violets and green with grass. Arbutus flowers perfume the air and the colorful songbirds of springtime are urging us to go outside.
Turn off your screens and enjoy a bright beautiful, colorful day.
Karen (Rose) Wils is a lifelong resident of North Escanaba. Her folksy columns are published weekly in Lifestyles