I have a number of natural history touchstones in the neighborhood—places I always check out to keep tabs on nature's progress—and one of them is a local pond at the edge of a large silage-corn field. The pond, which is quite shallow, was frozen solid during the cold spell, but with the rain and relative warmth, there are now stretches of open water that have attracted a small flotilla of ducks, handsome Pintails among the congregation. I hadn't expected to spot these until March, for I've come to see Pintails as harbingers of spring... especially in this pond. This winter, however, they were in this very place in December, a record sighting time for me, and, since they're here now, my guess is they never actually migrated very far. These three males are in full mating plumage, and they're calmly displaying their finery to each other and to one female Pintail. She's clearly not buying it, and if there were an appropriate sound balloon to affix to her departure, it would probably contain just one word. "Men," she might say, shaking her head. "Men."