Spring Returns to the Skies

A huge snowstorm blew into MN this week – it certainly still feels like winter, with so much snow on the ground.  But since I spent all that time outside shoveling, I counted 3 flocks of   canada geese flying overhead in just half an hour. I’d nearly forgotten about the geese, but when I heard their familiar honking I realized how few birds there have been around here; especially waterfowl.  Well, they’re back, along with budding maples and daylight lasting until past 6 o’ clock.geese

Splash of Gold

goldenrod

It’s been pretty gray & gloomy here this week, but the dark weather was made nicer by some bright colors. Some goldfinches flew in  from somewhere (where?) to feed on/perch in the blooming bundles of goldenrod. I don’t have a finch feeder, so I don’t see these bright little birds often, but it’s a nice treat when they come around. The male goldfinches are a vibrant yellow with black bars on their wings, but the females are a greenish-gray, and can be hard to pick out when they’re in a crowd with sparrows, juncos, & chickadees. They like to eat thistle/nyjer seed, like most finches. Goldfinches are more common further south, but they show up now & then to add some color to the brown/gray residents that live here all year.

Tiny Wonders

Hey!  I know I haven’t posted for a while, I recently came back from a trip to Massachusetts & Rhode Island. The weather’s a whole lot warmer there. (It’s in the 50’s here – brrrr.) I saw a bunch of new animals, mostly birds (salt water means a lot of species I don’t normally see), such as mute swans, sanderlings, & common terns. But surprisingly, some of the most interesting species were also the smallest. Getting closer to winter, caterpillars are becoming active. In the holes in tree trunks and other little cozy & protected spots, it’s easy to find wooly bears. These fuzzy orange & black caterpillars live a long time, wintering underneath bark & in hollow logs. When spring comes they spin cocoons & transform into the yellow & black Isabella tiger moth. It used to be thought that you could predict the harshness of the coming winter by the thickness of the wooly bear’s orange stripe: the thicker the stripe, the milder the winter. There’s a lot of skepticism over this, but there’s also some good evidence. There are also monarch caterpillars – not-fuzzy yellow & black caterpillars you almost always find on a milkweed plant. Since it’s September, these caterpillars are eating up for their long flight to Mexico when they become butterflies. There are several generations of monarchs born each year – the fall generation lives the longest: 6-8 months! It’s pretty cool the things you discover when you pay attention to the smallest things in life.

Instant Snowstorm

This morning, the weather was sunny & moderately warm. (For February anyway.) In a few hours, it changed to a blizzard it’s hard to see in. The weather here is pretty much instant. For some reason today, the wild turkeys were out, just hanging around on the streets in the middle of everything. Many of the animals don’t mind the cold, & actually seem to be more active in bad weather, gathering food. Probably this is to keep themselves warm. But with their thick winter coats, the cold doesn’t bother them very much.

Spring is Finally Here!

The weather has finally warmed up! temperatures are above freezing, & everything is melting. (However, as soon as I start to believe that, we’ll probably get 6 feet of snow.) The birds & the animals are loving the weather. I saw a few goldfinches recently, feasting on some thistle seeds. Starlings have started to show up too. There are puddles on the sidewalks several inches deep. Water is everywhere, & even the snow on the river is washing away!

Heat Wave

Its’ 30° today – almost at the freezing point! All the birds, squirrels, & other animals are out (not to mention people), enjoying the warm weather – how sad is that?

The buds on the trees are all getting bigger, & the rabbits & deer down in the woods are happily munching on this fresh snack. Even though it’s only January, all the plants & animals are preparing for spring.

December Showers

Rain? In December? Yup. It’s gotten quite a bit warmer in the past few days, as you can see whenever you look down & find your feet in a puddle. After weeks of heavy snowstorms & icicles, a warmer wind blew in, & now it’s been raining nonstop. A bunch of snow has melted, & the pavement, now snow-free, will soon be covered in a fresh layer of ice. Weeeeeee!

Warmer Days

It’s gotten a bit warmer lately (it’s been above 0° :-)!), & the animals are all enjoying it! The cardinals especially are being very active, often hanging around in the lilac bushes or at the feeder. They can be a little aggresive sometimes, but generally get along well with other birds.

First Snow

It snowed for the first time today! The snow started pouring last night, & it’s still going strong now. We’re supposed to get at least a foot, but I wouldn’t wonder if it was more. All the rodents & birds are hidden today, although they were pretty active yesterday, preparing for the storm. But now they are huddled up in secret hideaways, waiting for the storm to pass.

Driest October Ever!

This Oct. will has been the driest one on record for MN! Up to now there’s been just about no rain, & it’s been pretty warm (regarding that it’s October in MN!). However, the only thing that never changes about nature is that it’s always changing, & a few days ago, it got really cold, it started raining & it pretty much hasn’t stopped since! Also there have been some major windstorms. It appears that it’s getting colder just about everywhere. Check out the weather in Montana at http://montucky.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/fall-colors-in-the-valley/#comment-21013, although I am sure it’s just the same nearly everywhere else!

Spring News

'the sparrows nest'

It’s been really hot around here – the sun’s out all the time now, it’s about 78° F at the hottest. The bugs are loving it, especially the bees. (I’ve had more than one of them in my house in the past few days.) 

A pair of sparrows that has been building a nest in a birdhouse in my yard finally finished after over a month of flitting around collecting twigs, string, reeds, & all sorts of ‘comfortable’ things to nest on. It’s awfully messy, but the sparrows are very proud of it. 

Rain, Rain, & More Rain

It’s been raining hard here for several days now, & the sun is rarely out for more than a few moments a day. It’s also very cold, although it’s mid-May. I noticed that the birds really don’t mind though. They’re hopping around on the ground (& trying to get under the roof of the birdfeeder) with their feathers all fluffed out, searching for the least soggy seeds. The squirrels also are out, but I see them less often. I think they are mostly all curled up in their holes staying dry.