Wishing you the wonder and delight of nature this holiday season!
When I opened the shades yesterday, there was already about 7 inches of new snow on the ground and the air was thick with swirling, heavy wet flakes. I confess my first thought was, “How beautiful!” (Go ahead, call me crazy – you wouldn’t be the first! But it may mitigate your assessment a bit to know I didn’t have to go out.)
The birds were already up and foraging for food. The area surrounding our feeder was a very popular spot, and remained so all day long throughout the storm.
Goldfinches and House Finches were the most constant visitors to the feeders, perching in the trees near by in between snacks.
Chickadees and Titmice darted to the feeder to get their share, with Chickadees tossing rejects on the ground for the grateful birds feeding there.
A few of the ground feeding birds, like this White-throated Sparrow
grew impatient with having to wait for food to be tossed down to them and decided to go directly to the source themselves.
Even a few Dark-eyed Juncos also attempted to use the feeder. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker watched for his opportunity,
then used his gymnastics skills to get to some food …
and bring it back to his mortar-and-pestle-like feeding spot on a near-by tree.
His female partner
elected to join the ground feeders.
She seemed tentative at first, staying only a few seconds with each trip, but eventually she became more comfortable both with the process and her ground feeding companions.
White-breasted Nuthatches and a Downy Woodpecker joined the party a bit later in the day.
A Blue Jay stopped by briefly, turning his face to escape the wind.
Dark-eyed Juncos and Goldfinches browsed for seed at our Purple Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia), one of the few additional seed sources not buried in snow.
When not actively feeding, many birds took refuge in the relative safety and shelter of neighboring Black-haw Viburnums (Viburnum prunifolium) and White Pines (Pinus strobus).
The weather is pretty benign today, but clouds are starting to move in. Ready for the next round?
In a weather pattern that is pretty unusual for New Jersey in December, four snowstorms in a ten day period each brought a few inches of snow, sometimes with a mix of freezing rain or sleet. The result? A holiday display visible right outside our windows!
Anyone remember flocked Christmas trees? This snow covered White Pine (Pinus strobus) could be the inspiration for them, although nothing we manufacture could provide such a lovely shelter from the elements and predators for birds in winter.
Other decorations include the aptly named Wreath Goldenrod (Solidago caesia) arching gracefully under its weight of snow.
In place of a candelabra, a Purple Giant Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum) fruit cluster brightens its surroundings, while offering food for Goldfinches, Chickadees and even Dark-eyed Juncos.
No need to string cranberries or make other garlands when the red fruits of Winterberry Holly (Ilex verticillata) blaze on snowy branches.
Like using tinsel or other ‘icicles’ to decorate your tree? One storm provided the real thing. A little ice doesn’t deter this Tufted Titmouse from its pursuit of a meal.
I like bird ornaments on a Christmas tree, but even better are the live models posing outside in the trees
and on the ground below.
Just across the Delaware River from us, Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve was also blanketed with the fluffy white stuff.
Snow-covered fruits and leaves decorated the woods exactly like holiday ornaments dangling from the trees.
Snow tends to be ephemeral around here, and this weekend with temperatures in the 50s and 60s it has almost disappeared. (65°F at 7 o’clock this morning!) But even without the cover of snow, beautiful natural decorations are visible in some form every day of the year. So get out and enjoy them whenever you can!