David Lauderdale

Another sign of spring, this one perched atop a tower in Mackays Creek

The bridge osprey are back.

An eagle-eyed reader reports seeing two osprey hanging out Tuesday morning on the electric tower in Mackays Creek beside the bridge to Hilton Head Island.

The newspaper always squawks of their arrival because it is sure sign of spring.

I'm not sure it truly means we're free of winter's blustery weather. But who am I to argue with the inner workings of an osprey that wings in from South America each year, landing on the same pylon in the same creek? I can't even find my glasses. I'll put my money on the osprey.

The Palmetto Electric Cooperative live osprey webcam documented the arrival of an osprey on its tower on Mathews Drive at 4 p.m. Jan. 19. "Tired of looking at crows," someone wrote on the cooperative's webcam blog. "Hooray for the osprey!"

Already, we've had the first annual spotting of a painted bunting. That's another "sign of spring" in the Lowcountry.

In our brains, we all know the real signs of spring haven't arrived yet.

Our cars, yards and children are not yet covered with a yellow film of pine pollen.

Spartina grass is still solid brown.

Songbirds aren't yet flitting and flirting.

Carolina jasmine vines aren't in bloom.

Daffodil fields aren't yet a waving sea of yellow.

Herons and egrets haven't slipped into their breeding plumage.

Azaleas haven't even been teased into a premature bloom, much less set our yards ablaze.

And the thermometer hasn't yet hit 100.

But in our hearts, we know it's spring when we see the osprey on light towers, highway signs, poles in the marsh and crooks in the trees. They must look down on our drab lives as if we were groundhogs. But we know how to soar with the signs of new life.

Franklin Burroughs put our feelings into words in his book, "The River Home: A Return to the Carolina Low Country."

Paddling the Waccamaw River, Burroughs looked up at an osprey nest in the top of a dead cypress.

"The female sat tight on the nest, her head aimed down at me, her eye an unblinking glare," he writes.

"She lifted her crest, and it gave her that look of spiky, wild dishevelment that makes an osprey resemble a prophet newly arrived from the wilderness, brimming with apocalyptic disclosures and truths that burn in the utterance."

Shout it from the rooftops, brothers and sisters. The prophets of spring are back.