At this time of year, just when the Dam Short Film Festival comes and goes and the cold winter rains and winds die down, spring returns to Boulder City. It is still too early for the blooming of the colorful desert flowers, but observant walkers can record the stirrings of new growth in the town.
Around this time last year, I heard a ruckus out in the morning sky and hurried out, expecting to see a skein of geese or other water birds, like swans, circling in the sky. There were the long necks and long legs — surely swans? No, these were too delicate.
Silhouetted against a dark, gray cloudy sky, about 30 large birds circled and wheeled, making noisy rhythmic calls. I snapped a quick picture before they turned and the group flew north. Had I just seen a group of cranes?
I emailed my photo to the Nevada Department of Wildlife, which confirmed that these were indeed sandhill cranes. They winter over on the lower Colorado and then fly north in feeding stages to their summer grounds in Northern Nevada.
Other signs of spring can be seen lower down in the gardens that line the Boulder City streets. Along Fifth Street, I watch carefully as I walk for a certain garden where, every spring, there is a sudden burst of purple as carpets of violets bloom for a short time. Other gardens have isolated bunches of violets, but this one garden on Fifth is magnificent.
Walking up Utah Street at this time of year, the observant walker is treated to early clumps of blooming, pale yellow narcissus, flowering hedgerows and purple vinca, which has had a traditional role in early anti-cancer medicines.
As the early flower blooms fade, the fruit trees decide to break out in blossom, and there are fruit trees all along Utah Street: apple, pear, pomegranate, lemon and other citrus, all deciding it is time to bloom.
It is around this time that I watch for early nesting robins in Broadbent Park; the earlier they arrive, the warmer the summer, it seems. It used to be that there were numerous wild rabbits living around the high school grounds, but with the rebuilding of the school and demolition of the old buildings, I fear they may be gone. Or the coyotes have had them.
Present all winter have been the local hummingbirds; colorful Anna’s, Rufous and Costa’s are common and seem to stay around the feeders. I wonder where they shelter on freezing nights.
Have you ever heard a hummingbird sing? Check this link for a delightful chorus from an Anna’s hummingbird: http://bit.ly/2kY6zVA. I often have hummingbirds signing out on my side patio. The first time I heard their song, I was amazed, and now I listen for them on my walks. The call is very high-pitched and consists of trills and clicks.
Once you have heard them, you will hear them all over town. Enjoy!
Angela Smith is a Ph.D. life coach, author and educator who has been resident in Nevada since 1992. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.