The fertile fronds of sensitive ferns, also half buried in snow, stand as miniature sentinels at the edge of our yard.
Unlike some of the our other ferns, such as the wood ferns where the spores are found on the underside of the leafy frond, the sensitive fern produces its spores on a separate, fertile stalk. Each of the brownish bead-like structures on the stem contain many spores. Wild turkeys are known to feed on these fertile stalks, which are high in protein, but I think the turkeys rather prefer acorns and berries, as I've never seen them around the sensitive ferns.
Speaking of wild turkeys, it's been several years since we've seen a flock around here. I'm not sure why their numbers seem down in our neck of the woods, as I think the statewide wild turkey population is still quite healthy. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department invites people to submit observations of winter flocks of turkeys from January 1st to March 31st. For more information on contributing to this inventory click here.
One new bird -- for the season -- did show up at the bird feeder today: a tree sparrow. I like their rust cap and gray face, black smudge on their breast, and longish tail. Mostly I like that they visit us in winter, while spending their summers in far northern Canada. Our wintery conditions must feel like home to them.