Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Birds and My Blizzard

Today in southern Wisconsin, close to 20" of snow fell. Deemed a Snow Day by our beloved boss at Eagle Optics, it was a day to revel in the snowfall and dote on my resident birds. As soon as daylight broke, the birds were here, in abundance. My first job was to shovel a path to my bird feeders.



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With the volume of snow falling throughout the day, I found it necessary to clear that path numerous times, knock the snow off the feeders, replenish them, and spread cracked corn and sunflower seeds on the ground for the ground-feeding birds. My screen-bottom platform feeder filled up with snow so quickly-- then a squirrel discovered it, and planted himself there. Hmm. I decided to try another approach.draco-blizzard-dec20-2012-004

I live in a stone house with deep-set windows, and found that a perfect feeding station was outside the second story windows. The ledges are wide, and covered by the overhanging eave, so they provide a relatively protected place from blowing snow (and hungry squirrels).

It didn't take long for many species of birds to discover the food on the ledge, and the comings and goings were constant. Titmice, Pine Siskins, finches, chickadees, juncos, and woodpeckers feasted on the seeds and Zick Dough. I tried to sneak peeks of the feeding frenzy, but the cautious birds flew away as soon as they noticed me. All except one.
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I noticed this Pine Siskin early on. It rested, fluffed up, in the corner of the ledge for quite awhile, and I was afraid it might be sick. Later though, it joined in the dinner party, carefully opening one sunflower seed after another. Unlike the other birds, it hardly ever left the ledge. When I cranked the window open to restock the fare, it continued eating, barely noticing my hand dropping seeds just inches away. draco-blizzard-dec20-2012-017

I strapped on my snowshoes and picked my way around my prairie trails, heavily blanketed in the fresh, deep snow. As I walked, snow and wind whipping, I pondered the resilience of birds in harsh winter conditions. I'm thankful to be able to provide birds not only with food, but an abundance of cover. The prairie grasses and plants, even with that much snow, bend and bow, forming little insulated hideaways for birds after dark.draco-blizzard-dec20-2012-029
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Openings in an old stone wall afford birds a place to take shelter when dusk falls, too. I've seen evidence of birds roosting here.draco-blizzard-dec20-2012-032
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The daylight now waning, I retreated to my warm house, and marveled at the sturdiness, the miracle, of my birds on this blustery day.

Nina Cheney
Eagle Optics Staff
Binoculars: Bring them. See what they bring you.

1 comment:

  1. GREAT entry Nina! Good, good story. Good point....how DO those birds find that resilience.

    By the way.....what are snowshoes?

    Danny Hoehne
    Harlingen, Texas

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