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Digging in the Dirt

I took Janet's challenge and I found...

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I recently read Janet's article that stated under all this snow, there is proof of life and a reason to laugh, so I decided to venture outside to see what I could find.  Of course, I decide to venture out when the temperature is 9 degrees with a wind chill of negative 12, so I wasn't expecting to find to much.


However, to my surprise I found quite a few signs of life.  The first sign of life was some ground cover on the north side of my house.  I thought that the plant looked pretty good for February 27.  It does have overhead protection, but still has to take the full force of the winds.







The second plant that I ran into was some ivy in a container.  The plant was not only alive and kicking, but when I tried to move the branch to get a better picture, to my surprise I found that the ivy had actually rooted into the snow.






The third sign of life was a couple of strawberry plants trying to grow in a container.






And finally as I was walking in, who should fly up and land in my neighbor's tree, why it's a crazy robin that forgot to fly south for the winter.  So I am taking that as a sure sign that Spring is just around the corner.  I'm also betting that this will be the last winter that the robin decides to spend in Michigan.






Even though I can't feel my fingers right now, I still believe that Spring is almost here :)









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You might be surprised that the robin you spotted may not be one that decided to stay, but in fact one that has recently returned from his southern migration. Migration return dates for casual migrators like robins, which don't migrate in flocks, often follow a bell curve type distribution: a few very early, most in the middle (when people start seeing them), then a few returning very late. This could be one of those few, hardy souls that like to get back first. 


I took an ornithology class when I was in college in the U.P. (Houghton) where they migrate south with near 100% certainty. We would go out in a van at 6 am looking for birds starting the first week in March. Robins were not numerous, but certainly present. They just tend not to be out singing and hopping around lawns where people, who are still hunkering down inside, would be able to see them easily. 


That said, in the southern-most parts of Michigan, some robins do stick around all year depending on food supply and accessibility. So it could be a non-migratory type, but not necessarily. Coming back super-early has its advantages (and disadvantages). 

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