Thursday, January 3, 2013


It's cold. Two degrees Fahrenheit at 6:00 am. Too cold to stand still. Our pre-dawn walk is brisk, and still the cold seeps through multiple layers of clothing. The cold hobbles Kodi when he tries to walk on top of the snow. He starts to crawl, pulling up one leg at a time to escape the extreme cold on his paws. On these cold, cold mornings he mostly sticks to the dry road pavement.

Otherwise, the cold doesn't bother Kodi. That doesn't prevent him from curling up on the sofa with his pillows once we're back inside. We were cold outdoors, but inside we're toasty. The wood stove is generating great warmth, as long as I keep feeding it chunks of dry, seasoned wood.

Once the temperature outside reached a comfortable 10 degrees by late morning, Kodi and I set out down the road on a trek to the Cole Farm and Piscassic Greenway, a nearby conservation area. Bald Hill Road is a beautiful stretch of road in our neighborhood, lined with stonewalls, old maples, and fields. A small flock of bluebirds added a burst of color. Sometimes, like today, we hike more than a mile on the road to reach the conservation area. Kodi likes to go that far.

Shortly after we entered the conservation area, where he can walk off leash, Kodi started sniffing beneath a huge white pine at the edge of the field. I didn't see anything at first, but then his nose led me to a pile of feathers. Surely the work of a hawk -- maybe a red-tailed, one that hunts these fields regularly. Here is the pile of feathers.
If you look close you can see that there are some pure white (wing) feathers, with the rest mostly light and dark gray. Some of the bigger feathers are slender and 7 inches or more in length. Not many native birds have pure white feathers. I'm wondering if this is the remains of a guinea hen. The neighbor to this field has a flock. I find guinea hens to be annoying noisy (I assume that is their purpose), something that a hawk would find useful! Many guineas have spotted feathers, although these feathers have no spots. So, if anyone has a different idea about the i.d. of this bird, please post a comment.

Animal tracks are much more evident with the recent snow, as are these dramatic encounters between predator and prey.

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