Sunday, February 27, 2011

A Suitable Yard

Today reminds me of a cartoon that I saw years ago. A guy is on the phone, telling the weather forecaster to come over and shovel off of his driveway a foot of "partly cloudy." The forecast for today was 1-3 inches; when the snow finally petered out by noon nearly 8 inches of fresh powder had fallen. More wintry than we expected. Kodi and I took advantage with a long snowshoe hike at one of our favorite local haunts. Kodi had a huge smile on his face as he raced through the deep snow.

I've been away since Wednesday. The four dozen redpolls must have moved on while I was gone. Four male and two female purple finches spent some time at the feeders around midday, along with the usual flock of American goldfinches. The squirrels are not yet out today; they prefer to stay hunkered down in their dens during these winter storms.

A female downy woodpecker kept her male counterpart away from the suet. She wanted it all. When a female hairy woodpecker arrived, she tried to ignore it, but the heavier and bigger hairy caused too much of a stir so the downy left. A pair of red-breasted nuthatches visited the suet last week. I've been watching for them today, but they too must be staying put in a tree cavity in the back woods. Here's a decent photo of the pair from last week through my home office window.

A friend was needling me the other day for taking down our pine trees, while we complained about a neighbor taking down a big red oak. In our defense I noted that we still have many pines on the north side of the house - plenty for the red-breasted nuthatches, purple finches, brown creepers, and red squirrels, which like pines. Plus, we kept the red oaks in our woods and removed the pines, thus releasing the oaks from the over-topping pines. The oaks should grow bigger and broader, producing more acorns for all kinds of wildlife. Our neighbor had the one big oak and replaced it with some non-native plants. I think our strategy is better. Seeing the nuthatch pair reinforced for me that our yard is still diverse and has suitable habitat for these little birds.

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