At the same snow covered tree log where someone had placed sunflower seeds where yesterday’s Pine Siskin was having a snack a White-breasted Nuthatch swooped in for a quick bite as well. While the Pine Siskin took its sweet time staying put while it ate, the nuthatch had a markedly different strategy. As soon as the Pine Siskin had left the Nuthatch swooped in. It eyed the seeds, picked up one that had been hulled and took off. While the Pine Siskin was more of a sit and dine sort of bird the nuthatch was more of dash and grab type.
The Pine Siskins were out in full force today along the Whitemud creek. Despite the frigid temperature (-20 C) they were chirping away in the tree tops only taking a break to swoop down and gorge themselves on sunflower seeds. Pine Siskins are iconic winter birds in these neck of the woods and may look unassuming on first glance, but in the right light they are quite beautiful with bright yellows and olive green feathers.
Just as sudden as the spring temperatures arrived, they are gone and we are back in the deep freeze. This does not seem to stop the winter birds from making a racket through the forest. Most of them seem to be preoccupied with foraging. Nobody, however, seems too interested in these maple seed pods.
As we are inching our way out of the winter and closer to the first day of spring – which now is one week away (March 19) – some days definitely have spring in the air , but others not so much. This picture is just a few days old from the Whitemud creek right after another fresh layer of snow had fallen. A few mild days late and the snow is gone (again), but the temperatures are dropping again. It makes me wonder how plants and animals are dealing with these repeated false starts.
So in yesterday’s post the picture showed the big all terrain machines the crews are using do reconstruct the Whitemud creek after the beavers’ handiwork. Today’s picture shows what the reconstruction entails. While much of the terrain is blanketed in a fresh coat of snow one can still make out the field of boulders that now line the left bank of the creek. This is the outside of the meander where the erosion is the highest. It appears that shrubs have been planted along the base of the boulder field, likely to stabilize the slope further. In the pat I have seen lots of beaver activity along this stretch of the creek. It is going to be interesting to see how the beavers will take this change to the scenery.
The Whitemud creek can be a busy construction zone. During spring, summer and fall the beavers are busy with their engineering handiwork. In the winter, however, another form of construction, or rather reconstruction, is taking place. This is when humans come in and try to undo what the beavers have built. Over the last few weeks the city crews have been busy shoring up one of the meanders in the creek that was threatening to undermine and collapse the main path.
Yesterday’s post features a carefree Red Squirrel in a snow blizzard. Today’s post is featuring the Whitemud Ravine Great Horned mom owl in her tree cavity sitting out the blizzard. Getting this picture proved to be a bit of a challenge as the camera’s focusing system was being thrown off by the falling snow. We visited mom and pops owl last week, and this weekend they are still there. Mom still in her cavity and pops on guard in a nearby tree. I am not sure if the female is sitting on the eggs yet. If not it would just be a matter if time.
Clearly this Red Squirrel was not being bothered by the snow blizzard the least bit. It had found a spot on top of the back rest of a park bench overlooking the Whitemud Creek. It seemed to be contemplating profound things as it was gazing out over the frozen creek as the snow fell and blew around it. Even when it ended up having snow on its face it did not seem to mind. I assume it might take a squirrel to understand a squirrel.
It can be safely said that most people would agree that a snow blizzard is not the best circumstances for going birding. But if the birding is on the agenda and it just happens to snow…, sometimes you just have to bite the bullet and go for it. Birding while the snow flying sideways presents particular challenges. Some are obvious such as such as snow covered binoculars and the need to protect camera equipment. Other are perhaps not obvious, such as the camera focusing system being thrown off by blowing snow. Oh, and the minor detail that most birds are in hiding during such inclement weather is also somewhat of an inconvenience. This particular birding outing had, however, a particular goal in mind…, to check in on mom and pops Great Horned Owls, which, are pretty much stationary and this point no matter the weather conditions.
This Hairy Woodpecker did not fancy getting its picture take. Instead of just flying away it turned its back on me. Perhaps the tree was a good source of food and it wanted to spend more time foraging there? The subtleties that differentiate hairy an Downy Woodpeckers are intriguing. I have seen enough Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers to tell that the slightly larger size of this one means it is a Hairy Woodpecker. If you can see the bill, that would be another useful clue. In hairy Woodpeckers the bill is almost as long as the length of the head (if you would “fold the bill over backwards” it would almost reach the other side of the head), while in Downy Woodpeckers the bill is substantially shorter relative the the width of the head.