The Doldrums

I’m afraid The Doldrums have arrived.  You know the time between January 1 and that day when you have seen all the winter birds you are going to see. Oh, you might pick up one new species here and there, but in all actuality you are now going to wait until mid-March when the first calling Brown Thrasher or the flight of a Tree Swallow over a partially frozen pond signals the start of spring migration.

But until then I’m afraid it might be feeder watching time.

The official date for The Doldrums varies. On one of those very cold, snowy, frozen years it can be as early as January 1.  The kind of year where you go out and see all the local birds on New Year’s Day. And with everything already headed south, you aren’t going to see anything new for a while.

The Doldrums officially hit me last week weekend.  I spent the day with Don and Doug looking for new species in a couple of areas.  It was cold and windy.  The water for the most part was froze over.  The birds weren’t calling or flying. The only real action was at a feeder east of Goose Pond.  We heard a Red-breasted Nuthatch in some pines but that was it.

So what do The Doldrums look like?

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Not much happening at all. Goose Pond FWA 1/23/16
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Or here either. Owen-Putnam SF, IN 1/23/16
Goose Pond Frozen 012316 (2)
Oh wait. There was one bird flying. A Northern Harrier crosses our path. 1/23/16

Being as it was slow I got very few photos.  And since I have a degree in teaching history (never used if you want to know) I’ll explain The Doldrums.

The Doldrums or Intertropical Convergence Zone move from season to season influenced by the larger land masses in the Northern Hemisphere.

I most often hear people reference The Doldrums in relation to feeling depressed. As in “I feel I’m in The Doldrums since I haven’t seen a new bird in weeks”.  But The Doldrums really reference a zone around the equator where the wind might not blow for weeks.  And in the days of sailing ships this could be the kiss of death.


We now recognize The Doldrums are really parts of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone. From Wikipedia – “a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm. The Doldrums are also noted for calm periods when the winds disappear altogether, trapping sail-powered boats for periods of days or weeks.”

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There were some Wild Turkeys out and about though. Photo through windshield. Goose Pond Area – 1/23/16

So do The Doldrums also hit in the mid-June to late July period? For some, but not me. First I usually take a bird trip in mid-June.  And I’m a hot weather person and enjoy checking out things in the summer. Plus we have the two-month IAS Summer Count which always adds extra incentive to be out in the hot weather.

So for now:

AMGO Feeder
Trying out my “new” camera on American Goldfinch at the backyard feeder. It’s the camera I still use. LaSalle County Illinois – 1/2/10

But probably not.