Early Spring Wonders

Our Northern California spring days have been a joy. Come join me for a morning walk. It’s a little chilly so button up.

It is in the low Fahrenheit 30s every morning (-1C) and by mid-day reaches about 55F (13C). The sunshine’s warmth opens up the buds a little bit more each day.

The early spring flowers, like narcissus paper whites and daffodils, are out now, adding an occasional heady scent to the path.

The flowering quince is in bloom, another early spring flowering delight.

Deciduous oaks and ornamental gingkos are still leafless, but they have promising buds. We walk along a creek where there are many willow trees. It is a glorious sight to see so many willow branches covered with cottony catkins…pussy willows.

Our early morning walks reveal frost on the grass and rooftops, but as we reach the third and final mile, the grass has already become dewy and a popular spot for robins.

American robins are often thought of as spring harbingers in American culture; but that does not ring true for those of us who live in mild climates. Robins live here in northern California throughout the winter. I have seen them in large flocks of 100 a few times, but usually it’s flocks of 25-30.

Almost every day I am now hearing western bluebirds, even very early when it is still frosty cold.

Reptiles and amphibians are waking up too. Sometimes on a very warm day a tiny western fence lizard will be sunning on a rock. Only the tiny ones are out right now, they have less body to charge up than the adult lizards. Adults are still hibernating underground.

The spring calls of occasional frogs and toads ribbiting around the creeks can also be heard.

Some of the birds are changing their repertoire, singing their spring songs.

The oak titmouse is changing voices from its scratchy winter call into melodious tunes of spring.

Listen below:

Winter Oak Titmouse call

Spring Oak Titmouse call

Lately not a day goes by without the red-shouldered hawks proclaiming propriety with their piercing calls.

Last week we spotted one of my favorite spring arrivals in the backyard: the Allen’s hummingbird. They spend their winters in central Mexico and are now returning here to Northern California to breed. So far I have only seen the males; the females will come soon. The Allen’s are creating quite a stir for the year-round resident Anna’s hummingbirds, and the fierce battles have begun.

We came upon this Anna’s hummingbird feasting on the flowers of a bolted vegetable plant.

It’s a little too early for the riot of spring flowers and dancing butterflies, but it is a marvelous time to take in the bounties of the new spring season.

Written by Jet Aliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander.

83 thoughts on “Early Spring Wonders

  1. How beautiful and delightful all these early Spring things are!
    We’ve got Robins in winter here as well, but I haven’t seen a Blue Bird yet but, at least one ground squirrel is awake and out of hibernation this week and already into my bird feeder!

    It’ll be some little while yet before I see Daffodils, or anything else blooming.

  2. It always amazes me that those Hummingbirds fly all the way to, and back from, Mexico. We have European Robins all through the winter. (I’m sure one of them has befriended my wife as it always comes to say hello to her, often to just a couple of feet away). And there are daffodils beginning to come out all around. It’s certainly a wonderful time of year!

      • Much warmer and sunnier than in my home town today. I want to ride my eBike but the temp is in the mid-50s which is a bit too cold for me when you factor in the windchill. 63 is forecast for tomorrow so I’ll ride tomorrow. ❤️ Happy weekend, guys. 😎

    • Lovely to hear from you, Eliza, as always. Yes, after all that rain here it has been a time of beautiful growth. I’m very glad you could join us for our morning walk today, thanks for stopping by.

  3. Spring flowers are something I do miss living in Arizona (at least where we are.) I’m hoping to see the poppies bloom this year and perhaps a superbloom as we weren’t here for the last one. Lovely bird photos. I do love the bluebirds and I always enjoy hawks. 🙂 Enjoy the weekend.

    • Yes, the advent of spring flowers is very special in our colder non-desert climates, I agree, Janet. But I like the desert too. I was once in AZ in May and had the pure pleasure of seeing all the cacti in bloom. It was 26 years ago but I still remember it so well, because it was astounding. Lovely planet we share, eh? Thank you.

    • I’m happy you took a minute to listen to the two different seasonal calls of the titmouse, Sylvia. They are very different, surprisingly so. It always puts a smile on my face when I hear the spring calls begin. Lovely to have you stop by, Sylvia, thank you.

  4. Thanks, bud! Sorry about that…
    Lovely to see your early spring signs there, Jet. We’re beginning to see a few hints, buds emerging and the occasional warmish afternoon – phew!
    Enjoyed this positive and colourful piece, a great way to start the day!

    • I’m glad I could share the spring cheer with you, bud. I mean pc. I enjoyed your visit here today, my friend, as always–your fun words gave me a smile. Have a pleasant trip away. Cheers!

    • Interesting that you’re seeing a lot of hummingbirds at the Australian ferns, Jan. Maybe there are some nectar flowers under or hidden in them? Glad you enjoyed the post and photos, Jan, and sending lots of spring cheer your way.

    • Hi Brad. I am happy I could share a few glimpses of springtime with you today. Before long those frozen bird baths in your neighborhood will be all warmed up. Thanks very much.

  5. I can taste the spring is almost here! Seems like you already have spring! So many birds that you post and also show sunny days and flowers. Thank you, Jet for reminding me about spring. 🙂

  6. Such a wonderful photos of flowering’s and so lovely birds with glorious nature 🌹🙏👍🏻marvellous
    view and the beautiful lines to read , super spring wonders 😯✌🏼thank you for sharing 🌹🙏💕😊

  7. I always love seeing pussy willows and robins. Along with forsythia, those were the primary signs of spring’s arrival when I was young in Iowa, and they still make me happy in a way Texas flowers can’t. Sometimes I think we ‘imprint’ on childhood landscapes the same way young critters imprint on their parents. Forever after, we know what a season is ‘supposed’ to look like — however beautiful what surrounds us.

    • It’s interesting that you bring up the imprinting of our childhood landscapes, Linda, because I was just thinking about that this week. I was born in Wisc. and lived there for my first ten years, dairy cows were always a part of every day. This week we were driving in Calif. in a hilly area surrounded by dairy cows and I found it so comforting. So I’m glad I could bring you pussy willows and robins. We had forsythia every spring where I grew up too. Cheers to you and spring and sweet days. And thank you.

  8. Thanks for taking us on your morning walk. I will now pay more attention when I go on my walks rides. So far here we have plehora of yellow rumped warblers, a few eastern blue birds and a sprinkle of robins.

  9. Oh, what a joy to walk through your spring-time experiences with you and Athena, Jet – even if only virtually. You see (and hear and smell) so much! We are enjoying similar spring-time sights here in Coastal Georgia. This morning we watched a pair of Eastern Bluebirds checking out our bluebird box on the marsh; hopefully they will set up their household here!

  10. What a nice spring walk with you and Alexander, Jet. This is my first spring in the East. It has its own beauty and birds and flowers, but I do miss the West. So thanks so much for sharing. –Curt

  11. What a pleasant, enjoyable early spring walk, Jet! Beautiful flowers and lovely birds. Thank you for taking us for walk through your beautiful photos. 🙂

  12. A rich diversity of plant and animal life has always made California a most beautiful
    place not only to visit but to live. Year round life there affords a clear look at the
    changes it goes though and the beauty you obviously experience living in such
    diversity. Wonderful post Jet!

  13. Love this heartening post with all its harbingers of spring, so far ahead of wintry NYS. Enjoyed listening to the seasonal calls of the oak titmouse (I had known it long ago as the plain titmouse, but clearly prefer its newer common name). Only today I heard the first feeble notes from our local birds– a tufted titmouse stubbornly calling from a treetop as if to announce that a change is coming soon. Thank you for the preview, Jet.

    • It is a joy to share the “preview” of spring-to-be, Walt. This past winter in NYS has been especially brutal, from what I’ve read, so you all must be very ready for some spring warmth and sunshine. I loved hearing about your tufted titmouse’s early spring announcement. Your words are a pleasure to read, thanks very much, Walt.

  14. Oddly enough, we have been getting about the same range of temperatures in our mild February … so far – been nice for my long training runs. That Allen’s is gorgeous!! I need to get out there and see one of those for myself. Next week we head to Vegas so I’ll at least get to say hello to the stunning Anna’s (and hopefully tin a Western Bluebird while I’m at it). I’ve also never seen an Oak Titmouse – their winter calls are very close to the Chickadees we have around here. Very enjoyable post Jet – disappointed I couldn’t smell the flowers as I was tagging along virtually. Take care!

    • It is great to hear about your bird pursuits and discoveries, Brian. Yes, our oak titmouse winter call is close to the chickadee calls out here too, for us it’s the chestnut-backed. The different is the OT call is burry. I hope you get to see the western bluebird and Anna’s hb while in Vegas as well as some other western avian beauties as well. Happy travels and many thanks.

  15. Oh, I do love pussy willows! You’re lucky to have them and the other flowers so early in spring. That’s a beautiful capture of the bluebird on the lichen-covered post. I was especially enchanted with the Oak Titmouse. I never knew our adored Tufted Titmice had California cousins! It was a pleasure listening to its winter and spring calls. Thanks so much for sharing your local birds and blooms with us.

    • Lovely, as always, Barbara to receive your comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the pussy willows (I love them too), flowers, bluebird photo and the oak titmouse. The tufted titmouse has a bit more color than our oak, but otherwise quite similar, and a wonderful bird. Here the titmouse is one of the first of the songbirds to nest, often accomplishing two consecutive broods. Wonderful to have you stop by, thank you, Barbara.

  16. Feeling slightly jealous… It dropped to 9 F the other night, and I just got back in from shoveling the drive up to the road again. Make no mistake, riding the fat bike in the snow and experimenting with soup recipes have charms of their own, but one does eventually begin to dream of bare dirt, flowers and outdoor cooking. Cheers from the Bitterroots!

  17. Looks like you’re quite a bit ahead of us with the springtime arrivals. We’ve hit some unusual nights with temps in the low 30s here as well as a truly delightful touch of snow that incredibly stuck around long enough for me to see it. Most often the snow has melted by the time this night owl crawls out of bed in the morning.
    We were having to make sure our Anna’s nectar feeder was cleared of snow and unfrozen when our pair came out of torpor in the mornings. Since then we’ve seen some courtship displays (always a thrill), but no sign of the Allen’s… yet!
    Computer problems have had me gone missing, but I’m still struggling to hang i there!
    Wishing you joy and health in the coming spring….. 🤗

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