As we move into February, we wonder if winter will ever end. But, Allison and I can't help but find beauty in the nature of the cold. After the recent ice storm, I am sure we all looked out into a sea of glass as everything that was coated now drips with frozen rain. Warmer air temperatures in the clouds above caused snow to melt on the way down, but in contact with a surface below freezing, like branches, powerlines, roads and roofs, froze the rain.
Here at Quiant Oaks, the stillness enhanced the sounds of crashing branches and water dripped from everything and fell from the sky.
We have several bird friends that share the Quaint Oak outdoors with us. I like to take care of them when the food has been exhausted, or covered with snow. Here is a good website on winter bird feeding from Wild Birds Unlimited.
The following are many of the bird species we have observed this winter and the winter landscape that we enjoy...
This bird is called the Red-Bellied Woodpecker despite it's fiery red head. There is a seperate species of woodpecker called red-headed, therefore this species was designated the red-bellied woodpecker.
The Slate-colored Junco hang in a pack. They have a better chance of obtaining food, avoiding predators and surviving the winter in numbers. I have observed up to 12 feeding at one time. The Song Sparrow mimicks this strategy, however travel in smaller numbers. I have counted up to six at one time.
The Northern Cardinals (red are male, grey are female), travel in pairs, or threes. I never see a male without a female, and there are at least 2 families living nearby. Blue Jays I observe in two's.
Try and keep the squirrels out of the bird feeders, but they are hungry too. They eat the corn I put out and raid the birdfeeders.
I hope that this squirrel made it through the past few nights, he was travelling alone and I haven't seen him for over a week. His tail was very frail compared to the healthier squirrels above; the healthy ones travel in a pack of 4.
We are worried about the buildup of ice on the roof of the house. I got out and shoveled off the snow before the ice came, but I didn't get to this corner, it got too heavy and I got too tired.
The azalea bush is drooping low, each leaf coated heavy with ice.
In April-May, a blue bird will come and lay eggs in this blue bird box.
The berries on this barberry bush are what animals look for in times when food is scarce.
The Next Great Oak rests all Winter long.
Dead branches are purged by the heavy ice. The woods fill with the sound of falling debris.
This branch hangs low because of the ice.
Small animals or birds dig holes in the snow and seek warmth during the long, cold nights.
My favorite burning bush looks like a glass sculpture.
The humidity in the air shows as a low lying stratus cloud looms over the land.
We look out and talk about how lucky we are to be warm, safe and loved. Soon enough the season will change, and we will walk out into the warmth, amongst the regrowing of the Spring...but for now, love the Winter and its uniqueness. If we didn't have it, there wouldn't be change to enjoy.