Published March 29, 2009, 12:00 AM

Spring watch: Weather can’t keep the season at bay

Let’s face it. Any bird or plant in its right mind would have snuggled up with a blanket and a good book by a roaring fire over the past few days. It’s been alternately wet, cold, freezing, snowy, rainy, ice-pellety and downright raw.

By: Sam Cook, Duluth News Tribune

Let’s face it. Any bird or plant in its right mind would have snuggled up with a blanket and a good book by a roaring fire over the past few days. It’s been alternately wet, cold, freezing, snowy, rainy, ice-pellety and downright raw.

But the wild things know how to cope.

Squirrels are nesting now, says Fred Anderson of Cloquet. “They’re tearing apart the cardboard box I have and running away with it.”

Shirley Denzler of Zim called to say she had seen two swans on Stone Lake in Zim on March 21.

“Then we had a Cooper’s hawk that’s flying across the swamps between [St. Louis County] Highway 7 and County Road 319,” she added.

“I spotted my first killdeer of the year in my yard in South Range,” Kathie Botten reported on March 21. Killdeer nest on the ground. They’re the striking birds that put on an excellent broken-wing-follow-me act to draw intruders away from their nests.

Robins? Yes, they’re still arriving. One made it to Cotton on March 21, said Cheryl Soderlund. Rita Miller of Two Harbors saw her first one on Wednesday, and Ruth Pehl of Hermantown saw one the same day. For Bob Fudally of Superior, the day was March 16. He had two of them in his back yard.

Have you smelled spring yet? Brenda Fryc did on March 20 on Becks Road. A pungent skunk.

We have to go back to March 14, nearly two weeks ago, for Caroline Johnson’s sighting of a brown caterpillar crossing the road near Wrenshall.

“Had a woodcock looking for supper along the edge of the yard this evening in the rain,” Val Hill of Gilbert reported Tuesday.

Woodcock are fascinating little birds, built short and squat with tiny legs and a 3-inch-long bill they use to probe for worms.

Jim Rissanen of Saginaw had a couple of grackles in his yard eating sunflower seeds on Tuesday.

The Knife River went ice-free on Tuesday, said Gina Sve, manager at Emily’s Eatery on the shore of the river in downtown Knife River. When the water begins to warm, the steelhead will begin moving up from Lake Superior to spawn.

And here’s an update from the Spring Hawk Count in Duluth. Counters had tallied 1,841 bald eagles through Wednesday. A few other raptors, including red-tailed hawks, Cooper’s hawks and rough-legged hawks, also are moving.

For daily totals, go to www.hawkridge.org and click on “Spring Count Numbers.”

Keep those springy observations coming.

* Call the Spring Watch hot line at (218) 720-4131 and leave a message. Be sure to spell your name, tell us the date of your sighting, your town and how to reach you.

* E-mail us at oudoors@duluthnews.com.

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