The first day of spring has come and gone and though the still-frigid mornings we are experiencing these past days seem to contradict its presence, there are yet other signs that argue and confirm its arrival.
Such as the bluebirds, Canada geese and swans that showed up about 10 days ago (Alkali Lake valley) and then this past Sunday, the first meadowlark.
We heard its beautiful song first and then had to search to make visual confirmation; it was perched high atop a hydro pole loudly trilling its gorgeous spring song. With its very audible voice and bright yellow visage, the bird is an apt harbinger of spring and adds a cheerful note to any day. I have learned (over the past 30-odd years) from my husband and my neighbours, the Secwepemc word for the meadowlark, cúcwle7, one of many native words archived in my memory.
In the fields, young calves romp happily in the afternoon sun; they are not quite so enthusiastic or mobile in the early-morning cold.
Eagle numbers in the valley are on the increase as they tend to congregate in close proximity to the calving grounds; I refer to them as “nature’s clean-up crew” for they sit patiently, high atop a tree or hydro pole keeping an eagle-eye as a cow gives birth.
When it appears the process is complete and the calf is up (had its first suck) and the duo has moved along, the waiting eagles swoop down to feast on the afterbirth (expelled by the cow) left on the ground.
To the uninitiated, this probably sounds pretty gross but I admire nature’s symmetry; her clean-up crew is very thorough and soon all evidence of the birth-event has vanished. Now and then there is competition for the protein-rich treat as ravens, crows and coyotes also lurk and hover close by, also hoping for an easy meal.
Liz Twan is a local rancher and freelance columnist for the Tribune.