The melting snow has softened the ground into mud, luring out of the earth a host of worms. This is the robins’ favorite season. These ground-dwelling thrushes mainly survive on earthworms, as they aren’t designed to digest seeds. They come back North at the same time as the earthworm migration. (It sounds crazy, but worms do migrate. However, they migrate vertically: in the winter they dig deep under the ground & huddle up until spring.) The robins sense the worms reappearing, & it brings them in flocks. Some robins do stay the winter, feeding on whatever fruit or berries they can find. In the spring then, it’s obvious which robins stayed & which flew south, for the migrating robins are always significantly plumper than their wintering cousins.
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.
After the snow came a huge cold snap. The high today was 1° F, the low -15. The birds & squirrels have beenbusy all day at the feeder, eating & eatibg to keep themselves warm.
The geese, ducks, & some other birds have finally begun to go south. There are always a few that stay, because the Mississippi never completely freezes here, but usually a bunch of birds will pack up & move in the fall. They’ve finally begun to migrate, but they were later than usual this year – they must have finally decided it was cold enough to leave.
I was camping in the smoky mountains a few nights ago. It’s full of white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, & even black bears! It was hot – somewhere over 100°. I didn’t see any bears, but there were plenty of white-tailed deer. They were quite used to people, & in the morning there were always a few of them hanging around the campsite. I got to see a few of them at really close ranges – maybe 8 feet away. It stunned me how they can survive in the wild when they are SO noisy. They tramp through the woods making a huge racket, but they must be able to move quietly when they want to or how would they survive?