Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Feb. 2021


When it's as cold as it's been these last days it's easy to become an armchair birdwatcher. Now, a real bona fide birder has a binocular hanging from their neck, a waterproof notebook at hand, and a felt fedora on their heads. But at these temps even the most dedicated are tempted to do their watching through a window. Every morning waking up to 25 to 30 below temperatures makes that hot coffee smell even better while dampening the desire to get outside. My routine of late is to go out and fill the birdfeeder while the eastern horizon is just getting light, return for a bit of breakfast, and then sit near the window with coffee and a book. Before the sun breaks the tree tops the chickadees and grosbeaks arrive and the feeder becomes the busiest place for the day. On and off they'll be joined by nuthatches, finches, blue jays, and several other species that are common to northwoods winters.

Occasionally a Pileated woodpecker will stop in the tree next to the feeder wondering what the commotion is about. Downy woodpeckers and gray jays fly in looking for suet. A few days ago I spotted a Northern Shrike land close, probably hoping to spot a vole or mouse feeding on spilled seeds.

Those spilled seeds on the ground are wildlife attractant in their own right. We've watched red foxes stalking the snow around the feeder for the same little rodents the Shrike was hoping to find, and gray foxes show up at night for the same. Then there are deer. Deer visit daily and munch birdseed under the feeder fifteen feet from the window. We've seen as many as seven crowding each other providing countless photos and videos. A couple of deer are rearing up to help themselves to the goods right off the feeder.

I like winter activities and am lucky to be able to enjoy them close by. Skies and snowshoes are standard equipment. I like splitting firewood when it's cold. This winter I've been riding a new fat bike on packed trails that's either keeping me in shape or wearing me out. There are woods to be wandered with a .22 rifle right out the door and I have a mess of ice-fishing gear that I hardly use anymore, but it's there and ready. Then there's gazing out the window – call it lazy it you want, and it probably is, but the view is great.