A song sparrow sang, "Hip, hip, hip hurrah, boys, spring is here."

We don't have a lake that we could document as being ice-free, but my wife, The Queen B, declared the deck of our house to be snow- and ice-free as of March 30.

A Cooper's hawk attempted to catch one of the two gray partridges strolling along our lawn's southernmost border. The bird of prey buzzed the partridge's tower, but there were no casualties. My wife claims that she knows an accipiter is in our yard when she hears the theme from "Jaws."

Red-winged blackbird, robin, grackle and killdeer numbers grow. Turkey vulture counts soar.

Rain comes. Snow goes.

March struggled to reach 50 degrees this year, but it made it. Snow cover makes it tough for temperatures to rise. It was good to have the warmth. I wasn't depending on AccuWeather to provide me with nice weather. I relied on AccuMe.

Rhonda Allison of Glenville sent me a cartoon of a robin with its tongue stuck to a metal post. The weather delighted me and the cartoon caused me to laugh.

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, I wonder where the flowers is.

Football fans are bird watchers

People are fond of watching birds run, block, tackle, kick and pass. The NFL is a flock of birds.

The Arizona Cardinals are named for the northern cardinal. Cardinals are found in Arizona, but the nickname came from the original franchise, the Chicago Cardinals.

The state bird of Arizona is the cactus wren.

The Atlanta Falcons likely represent the peregrine falcon. The American kestrel might have been a better choice with its lovely plumage.

The Baltimore Ravens come from Edgar Allan Poe's poem, "The Raven" in which the big bird said, "Nevermore." Ravens are brainy birds.

The Philadelphia Eagles pay homage to the bald eagle. Our national emblem was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. I'm not sure of the status of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Seattle Seahawks are ospreys, fish-eating birds of prey. The image the team uses looks more like an eagle of some new kind.

The sound and the feathery

The noisy Montezuma oropendolas drew my attention as I walked about in Costa Rica. The males are vociferous birds, mainly chestnut with a blackish head and rump, and a tail showing bright yellow. There is a bare blue cheek patch and the long bill is black with a red tip.

The Montezuma oropendola inhabits forest canopy, edges and old plantations. It is a colonial breeder that builds a woven sack nest of fibers and vines that hangs high in a tall tree. They prefer this tree laden with nests to be apart from other trees to prevent monkeys from raiding the nests. A wasp nest in the tree is welcomed as it offers more protection from monkeys.

Echoes from the Loafers' Club Meeting

"I overslept this morning."

"Didn't your alarm go off?"

"Yes, but it went off while I was asleep."

I've learned

As I listened to many young people sing the national anthem during the high school basketball tournaments, I was impressed at how much better they were at the job than the majority of the professionals who sing it at nationally televised events. The youngsters not only knew the words, they used them.

The geek have inherited the earth.

Thanks to Facebook, Minnesota has become the land of 10,000 likes.

The news from Hartland

Woman claims that the other driver was at fault because he didn't notice that she was on her cellphone.

You lose weight on the Lutheran Diet because the guilt you feel after cheating on your diet burns calories.

Buick introduces a new model called the Geezer.

The cafe chronicles

The Glue Club was meeting at the legendary table of infinite knowledge. They've stuck together for years. They were enjoying the special of the day - a popular hotdish. That's how they roll - or casserole. They did some friendly complaining about the good food. Peanut butter on sandpaper. Tastes like I'm licking my foot. Most of their heavy discussions involved heavy equipment.

The waitress sang a line from a Rolling Stones song, replacing "I'll never be your beast of burden" with "I'll never leave your pizza burning."

The B & B Cafe in Albert Lea displays a sign, "Be nice or leave. Thank you."

That should be posted everywhere.

Animal stories

The cats stared at the wall. After five minutes of that, I walked over and stared at the same spot to see what they saw. I glanced at them and saw the felines were smirking. Maybe they saw the ghosts of hamsters.

There was a movie starring Steve McQueen, called "The Great Escape." It was about those attempting to escape from a prisoner of war camp.

I had a series of hamsters in my formative years. Somehow, each of those hamsters escaped and found home in my father's easy chair.

I named each of the free-range hamsters "Steve."

Traveling mercies

The sun projected the shadows of the lofty wind turbines planted near the highway. More than one elongated shadow of a blade swooped across the road as I drove from here to there. I sang, "I'm being followed by a blade shadow." Somewhere, Cat Stevens sang, "I'm being followed by a moon shadow."

Travel is educational. That's why I stop at historical monuments. They're both historical and monumental.

I recall flying to New York. I was going to be a big dork in New York for a couple of hours, but my flight out of Minneapolis was delayed due to an ill plane. I reached the airport in New York just in time to see my flight to Zurich take off without me. Historical markers never do that.

Did you know?

Scientists have found caffeine-laced nectar improves honeybees' memory for up to three days. It probably gives the bees a buzz.

Have you walked into a room with a purpose in mind, only to completely forget what it was? Doors might cause these strange memory lapses. Psychologists at the University of Notre Dame discovered that passing through a doorway triggers an event boundary in the mind, separating one set of thoughts and memories from the next.

Nonprofit Vote states that Minnesota ranked first in voter turnout in eight of the last nine elections (presidential and midterm).

According to BMC Public Health, the world's population is 17 million tons overweight.

"Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Flesh-Eating Subhumanoid Zombified Living Dead, Part 2: In Shocking 2-D" is a movie title.

Gates Brown was eating two hotdogs in the Detroit Tiger dugout in 1968 when manager Mayo Smith ordered him to pinch hit. Brown stuffed the hotdogs into his jersey to eat later. After sliding headfirst into second with a double, the mustard and catsup from the hotdogs bled through his jersey as he stood on base.

Bread was once used for erasing pencil marks.

Column customers

Ric McArthur of Morpeth, Ontario wrote, "That which does not kill me makes me harder to insure."

Nature notes

A weasel is 7 to 14 inches long, a mink 16 to 29 inches. A mink is dark with a white spot on the throat. A weasel is yellowish-white underneath and has a black tip on its tail.

Meeting adjourned

Zion Lutheran Church of Albert Lea has a sign reading, "Life is short. Forgive quickly."

Thanks for stopping by

"The smaller the mind the greater the conceit." - Aesop

"I wish you bluebirds in the spring to give your heart a song to sing." - From the song, "I Wish You Love."


©Al Batt 2013