April 14, 2010

Animals in the Spring

Although we have had some blustery weather over the last few days in the Seattle area, there is no doubt that spring is arriving. Not only are flowers and leaves peeking their way back into the landscape, but Washington state animals are starting some interesting activities as well. Here are a few things to look for around your neighborhood and around the Puget Sound.

Wood Peckers: You may have noticed already this spring that woodpeckers are pecking your house, trees and other parts of your neighborhood. There are a couple of different reasons why woodpeckers “drum” on houses. Searching for food is one reason, but did you know they may also be trying to attract a mate?

That’s right, drumming is used to communicate with other woodpeckers, and they tend to be at their loudest during their breeding season in early spring. In order to get the point across and make the drumming even louder, woodpeckers have been known to drum on flashing around chimneys (thus the rooftop noise), siding and even metal street lamps!

Hairy Woodpecker, photo by Stuart MacKay

Once a woodpecker has found a mate, your house will likely go unnoticed by the neighborhood woodpeckers.

Male American Robins: Is a robin attacking your windows every morning? It may be startling, but the bird is not injuring itself. Instead, this noisy and disruptive behavior is due to a male robin seeing his reflection in the window pane. Male robins get particularly territorial during their mating season in early spring, and will come back repeatedly to your windows to check up on this “invader.”

Male American Robin, photo by Stuart MacKay

Just like the wood pecker, this behavior only lasts for a short period of time. However, for your sanity, click here to find out ways to reduce reflections on your windows.

Orcas: The three pods that inhabit Puget Sound, known as the southern resident killer whale population, return to the area in May to follow salmon runs until October. Popular routes for the Puget Sound’s three orca pods in the spring are generally around the San Juan Islands. If whale watching boats aren’t your style, people often see orcas from the state parks on the islands.

Orca Whale, photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/ephotion/255115491/

Eastern Cottontails: If there are rabbits that hang out in your backyard or neighborhood park, you may see some interesting mating displays. Eastern cottontails, common in the Seattle area, have a mating season of February-September. The males fight each other and do dance-like courtship displays. These displays include group chases and lots of jumping, including females jumping over males.

Eastern Cottontail

Keep an eye out for these interesting creatures and enjoy your spring!

Posted By: Andrea Barber, Communications