Singers, movers, and bloomers

2009 February 19
by David J. Ringer

DUNCANVILLE, TEXAS — My thoughts are ranging widely tonight — Papua New Guinea, Dublin (Texas), Ethiopia — for reasons which you may already understand or will eventually. But for now, let’s talk about Dallas County.

Every morning and evening, I hear White-winged Doves calling outside my apartment. Cardinals sing too, and Bewick’s Wrens and mockingbirds. Hormonal migrants like cowbirds and Common Grackles are passing through.

Joe Pool Lake, which has had virtually no wintering waterfowl, has in the last couple of weeks been a good place to find ducks. Most days, I can find migrating flocks sometimes numbering in the dozens: Redheads, pintails, wigeons, shovelers, ring-necks. They only stay a day or part of a day and in the morning are replaced with others. This is a sure sign of migration in progress — of birds leaving wintering territories and starting to move.

I am expecting my first Purple Martin or White-eyed Vireo (even a Black-and-white Warbler?) any day now.

The weather doesn’t always correspond with these biological signs of spring. Cool fronts sweep through about twice a week, followed by warm fronts. Yesterday was close to 80; today, my fingers hurt in the chilly wind.


On Valentine’s Day, I found two drifts of trout lilies at Cedar Mountain Preserve. This magical landscape made me wish I were about six inches high.


The flowers stayed partly closed (because of the chilly temperatures, I theorized) and exhibited delicate pastel overtones.


Also in bloom right now is Forestiera pubescens (elbow bush or stretchberry), which is a member of Oleaceae. Its better-known relatives include olives, lilacs, ashes, and forsythias.


Elbow bush is unusual in its family in that male and female flowers are borne on different plants (i.e., it is dioecious). These are male flowers; you can see the pollen-bearing stamens.


And here are the female flowers. Neither male nor female flowers have petals. If you remember your high school biology, you should be able to identify the stigmas, styles, and ovaries on the individual flowers in each cluster.


Another native species is flowering too — though it’s easy to miss. Christmas mistletoe (Phoradendron tomentosum) shows small, very inconspicuous flower spikes.

There are plenty more Erythronium and Forestiera photos in my early spring blooms gallery. I’m eagerly waiting for more species to begin flowering, though I’m worried that our drought will have a negative impact on the spring bloom season. Last fall was so dry that several species failed almost entirely, and conditions haven’t improved over the winter.

Related posts:

  1. Happy first day of spring!
  2. Springiness
  3. Coy mistress Spring
  4. Orchids and thunderstorms
  5. Butterfly forest
4 Responses
  1. February 23, 2009

    Thank you for the identification on the white trout lilies! I stumbled across a veritable cornucopia of them at White Rock and had no idea what they were. You saved me the investigative footwork.

    I’m with you on wondering how the drought will impact spring. Even as plants start coming to life and animals start building new families, the projections show our drought is supposed to persist or intensify at least through spring.

    • david permalink*
      February 24, 2009

      Cool, glad you found some up there too!

  2. February 24, 2009

    Enjoyed the pictures of spring being on its way. It is so nice to be able to get out and about during this time of the year. Watching the world come back to life – migrating birds, first signs of new life on so many plants, changeable weather – it all makes one anticipate what this new year will bring to us.

    • david permalink*
      February 24, 2009

      Thanks, Dave. Yes, it’s a wonderful time of year in North Texas.

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