Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Settling in...

Trees are now bare of leaves as we slip into late November - we did the last of our fall raking over the weekend. The Fox Sparrows and White-throated Sparrows from last week have moved on, leaving our backyard with birds that are likely to spend the remainder of winter. There are a few dozen Dark-eyed Juncos visiting our backyard, but I anticipate even more of them after our first blanket of snow. Both Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches are regular visitors and three varieties of woodpeckers make routine stops for suet. Rounding out backyard birds are Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees and House Finches. Mourning Doves often line up on the electrical line running from our house to the utility pole in the corner of our yard.

Once snow comes, my visits to Pheasant Branch Conservancy will not be as frequent and they've already been declining. Still, the place is difficult to resist after a fresh snowfall – the beauty can be quite remarkable and there's usually nobody else there, making it a nice winter escape into solitude. But one isn't really alone. In the woods, the sound of wind blowing through the empty branches is punctuated by an occasional chickadee call or "peter peter peter" of a Tufted Titmouse. A Downy or Hairy Woodpecker may announce is presence, but mostly it's the sound of creaking trees and footsteps crunching in the snow.

All images © 2007 Mike McDowell

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