Today is the first day of Spring!
The arrival of Spring with its balmy temps plus teensy shoots and delicate blooms making their annual debut, is always a delight in a four-season state. Midwesterners wistfully long for Spring deep in the heart of Winter. We had such a mild Winter season that many times it felt like late March – in fact, the temps were up and down, as much as a 30-degree difference in 24 hours’ time. Yikes – it was almost as bad as the stock market these days.
Though COVID-19 has obliterated most of our normal day-to-day activities, nature and Spring’s arrival are still here for us to enjoy.
Splish-splash I was taking a bath.
It’s time for us humans to shed our multiple layers of bulky clothing and start primping a bit in anticipation of warmer weather. But in the meantime, take a look at these waterfowl doing their daily ablution. For them, this polar plunge, then preening their feathers to distribute the oil, was a guarantee to keep their feathers waterproofed and bodies insulated during the cold Winter days. Waterfowl preen all day long, all year long, but it’s especially important in Winter.
On the morning I took these pictures, it was the second of three trips to Dingell Park on the Detroit River in my quest for Bald Eagle shots that I’ve been writing about. On February 21st, I stole down to the riverfront and shivered in the 14F (-10C), with a real-feel of 8F (13C) temps, with wind gusts to 14 mph (22 kph). Brrr! I got there at 8:00 a.m. as I wanted time to get photos, as well as stop at Council Point Park which is just about five minutes away. It was a work day, so I had to hustle.
Patience is a virtue.
I layered up and wore two pair of gloves, then parked myself at a primo spot in the pavilion area … primo because I was the only person (stupidly) standing there shivering at the River’s edge. I was wearing a puffy down coat (hoping the geese and ducks didn’t see any of those white downy feathers which always seem to escape through the material – I wouldn’t want them to think less of me that I was enjoying a little warmth at their ancestors’ expense). 🙂
However, as cold and frosty as that Friday morning was, the various waterfowl just rolled with it. As mentioned above, as long as the shorebirds are able to take a polar plunge and then preen to distribute the oil throughout the feathers, that oil acts as a water repellent and helps them plunge into those chilly waters without freezing their feathery butts off.
The sun was shining brightly, illuminating the pavilion area. I watched the seagulls; some were still roosting, standing on one leg, others kept one sleepy eye closed and watched me with the other. They were huddled together on the ice – my heart went out to them. I decided to use the seagulls’ photos yesterday for Wordless Wednesday and I am sure you could share their pain. There was ice where the seagulls congregated, but in the cove area, the current is strong and there was no ice, just frigid water.
The Canada Geese and Mallard Ducks were busy – they were not chowing down on any fish, nor reeds, but it was bath time. I always enjoy watching any bird taking a bath, whether it is the little squirts in a birdbath, a robin enjoying a morning spritz in a homeowner’s sprinkler or even a puddle in the street, to the waterfowl splashing in the chilly waters of a local creek or river setting. When I had my canaries, I bought them several types of bathtubs, all which they turned their noses (er, … beaks) up at, instead favoring their water cup to bathe in. They dived, dipped and then shook their feathers, in a cleaning-and-preening ritual like many generations of birds before them. We always had birds as pets and the budgies/parakeets loved their daily bath time. One parakeet would hop into his bathtub, then look at himself in his mirror afterward and clear as a bell Skippy would declare “he’s a pretty bird!” (My mom taught him to say that – he was not THAT infatuated with his appearance.)
First up … Ms. Mallard (no rubber ducky needed here).
Next, the Canada Geese … BTW, not a honk or a hiss while they primped.
I guess that gander liked what he saw in the water – look how nicely he posed for me.
Hope I gave you a little smile for today. Stay safe everyone.