Some Think Robins are the Harbinger of Spring; I Vote For Snakes

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Real Estate Agent with Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada
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Who was it that decided that robins are the harbinger of spring? Don't know about other parts of tRobinhe planet, but here in Reno, Nevada we have robins pretty much all the time. They must be reasonably hearty creatures, because our winters are cold and snowy.

They are also smart...my husband has a small vineyard growing in the side yard, just for fun. In a cold winter climate like ours, where late-spring freezes are common, it is a real challenge to keep the vines alive. So finally last year he got a pretty nice crop of grapes. Very excited, he laboriously covered them with netting before they started to ripen. But robins aren't that stupid or that easily deterred. They quickly figured out how to get under his netting from the ground and had a jolly time decimating the harvest. But I digress...

Given that robins are readily found the year round, I would like to propose an alternative harbinger...the snake. Not any particular sort of snake, they are all poikilothermic (cold-blooded), so will emerge from wherever it is they go only when it is warm outside. 

In the past week, having not seen a snake since last summer, I have encountered several, including two Gopher Snakefairly large ones. One was a gopher snake, which is a common variety around here. He was stretched out across the trail where I was jogging, maybe about three feet long, which qualifies him as medium-sized. Gopher snakes can grow to upwards of six feet, much larger than our local rattlers. I stopped and checked him out for a moment, then decided to proceed by jumping over him since there was no easy way to go around. One more step closer, and he sucked back into a coil and gave me the evil eye. Gopher snakes are very cool; when they feel threatened, they do a quite convincing rattlesnake imitation, flattening out their heads, shaking their tails, and coiling as if to strike. As I hung there in midair, it occurred to me that, even though I was quite sure he wasn't poisonous, I was pretty sure I didn't want him to bite me. So I stopped again, and eventually he slithered off into the brush alongside the path.

My second encounter was on my bike. I had ridden to the very top of Arrowcreek Parkway, a booger of a climb especially this time of year when I am out of shape. I was enjoying the fruits of my efforts, a nice long decent, but keeping an eye on the cart paths (which cross the road) for those other harbingers of spring, the golfers. After one such look, I returned my gaze to the road to discover a snake sunning himself on the asphalt. Nothing I could do, I rode right over him. I must say I felt really badly about that, but I glanced back and he was hauling ass off the road in typical, Garter Snakesquiggly-snake fashion, apparently none the worse for wear.

Besides these two larger guys, I have seen a few cute little garter snakes, the black ones with the yellow stripes down their sides. Coincidence? You decide. But I think I know who the true harbinger of spring is!

 

Photo Credits: Robin red breast22 by BobMacInnes, Gopher Snake by jkirkhart35, Garter Snake in My Hand by Dano. All from Flickr via Creative Commons License

 

 

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Copyright © 2012 Linda S. Humphrey, all rights reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Linda S. Humphrey, M.D., CDPE, e-PRO, EcoBroker, GREEN

Broker/Owner - Humphrey Home Connections Realty, LLC

cell: 775-287-4665

office: 775-232-8515

www.HumphreyHomeConnections.com

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Rainmaker
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Steven Wright
Home Real Estate - Aurora, CO
CRS - Home Real Estate - 720-989-5283

I think in your area, the snake wins.

May 23, 2011 12:30 AM #1
Rainmaker
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Pamela Seley, REALTOR®
REALTY EXECUTIVES OTF - Temecula, CA
Seals the Deals in Temecula Valley California

Linda, I've seen only one rattlesnake this year and it's already May. We've had cooler than usual temperatures.

May 23, 2011 12:37 AM #2
Rainmaker
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Matt Brady
New American Funding - Del Mar, CA
Lending With Competence And Character

Just keep the birds away from the snakes.

May 23, 2011 12:54 AM #3
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Andrea Swiedler
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties - New Milford, CT
Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT

Linda, we do have snakes here, but usually a bit harder to find. I do not like snakes, I admit it. Although some are pretty cool to look at... best if there is a piece of glass between them and me.

May 23, 2011 06:36 AM #4
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Richard Weisser
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers - Newnan, GA
Richard Weisser Coweta Newnan Homes for Sale

Linda...

Thank you for this post that represents snakes for the beautiful creatures that they are. I know a lot of people that kill snakes "just because" which is such a cruel thing to do!

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May 23, 2011 08:08 AM #5
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Chris Ann Cleland
Long & Foster REALTORS®, Manassas, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Northern VA

I saw a baby garter snake when I first mowed the lawn in our current home.  I was quite brave since I was wearing gloves and decided to bend down and pick the little guy up.  Nothing doing!  He slithered away from me so fast it made me laugh.

May 23, 2011 11:55 AM #6
Rainer
135,233
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Steven - Thanks for your vote! Snakes 2 - Robins 0. :)

Pamela - I haven't seen any rattlesnakes in person for several years. Our rattlesnakes here are the Western Rattlesnake; they are small, shy and not very aggressive. Much more pleasant than the Western Diamondbacks, Mohaves, and Sidewinders that hang out in the southern part of the state. I'm impressed that you have seen one already.

Matt - Good point! But I haven't seen any flying snakes yet.

Andrea - I like snakes. But I have a great deal of respect for their capabilities. I enjoy seeing them in the wild, but I agree, the really scary ones are best to view behind glass. And hope they stay there, unlike the Bronx zoo incident.

Richard - I can't imagine killing any creature for no reason. Especially not our beautiful and beneficial gopher snakes! Unfortunately, they are often killed when uninformed people mistake them for rattlesnakes (not that I would kill one of those either unless...I can't even think of an "unless") Thanks so much for the feature!

Chris Ann - We have tons of those garter snakes in our yard. Have to be really careful mowing, although as you note, they take care of themselves pretty well!

 

May 23, 2011 11:18 PM #7
Rainmaker
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Colleen McConnell
Tallahassee, FL
Tallahassee Retired Realtor

Thanks for the interesting post. I didn't know that gopher snakes imitated rattlers - very smart of them. In FL, we have birds all year as well and since I saw my first snake about 6 wks ago, I'm inclined to agree with you.

May 24, 2011 08:55 AM #8
Rainer
135,233
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Colleen - Isn't that amazing? I marvel at it. How did that behavior evolve? Since we have lots of gopher snakes and not so many rattlers, the gophers probably didn't learn it at the water cooler :).

PS Snakes 3, Robins 0

May 24, 2011 11:41 PM #9
Rainmaker
511,401
Lisa Wetzel
RE/MAX Realty Affiliates - Carson City, NV
CDPE, SFR carsonvalleyland.com

I love snakes, always have.  They are so unusual and different.  My kids grew up with every kind of crawly critter, it's what you get when you have boys!

May 26, 2011 02:59 PM #10
Rainer
135,233
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Lisa - Snakes are pretty cool. And I know exactly what you mean about boys; we had continuous critters, rats were prominent for a while and I discovered that they are quite friendly and personable, although they could use some help in the smell department. Currently, my son's roommate has a Burmese python that is about 18 ft long. It is a beautiful snake, but when it picks it's head up and looks me right in the face like it is trying to decide if it could swallow me whole, I am creeped out just a teensy bit. Thanks for stopping by.

May 26, 2011 10:24 PM #11
Rainmaker
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Jim Frimmer
HomeSmart Realty West - San Diego, CA
Realtor & CDPE, Mission Valley specialist

I’m not sure we have a harbinger of spring around here. Maybe it’s when the Christmas bills arrive in January.

May 26, 2011 11:31 PM #12
Rainer
135,233
Linda Humphrey
Humphrey Home Connections Realty, Reno, Nevada - Reno, NV
CRS, Broker/Owner HHC Realty

Jim - I am sooooooo jealous! Spring is only tantalizing us here....STILL! May even snow this weekend...blech!

May 27, 2011 12:32 AM #13
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