"Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens."

Carl Jung


Meadowlarks and Mourning Cloaks

What a difference a few days of warm weather makes. We spent some time out in nearby grassland areas where we viewed and heard many FOS birds, including Eastern Meadowlarks, one of my favorite grassland species.  Their songs were so clear and melodious- and the calls of many Killdeer were equally as welcome to my ears. They may be a so-called 'common bird' but there is nothing common regarding the annual return of migrant birds, and the wonderful songs they bring with them.

We also enjoyed many Sandhill Cranes, Red-winged Blackbirds and large billowing flocks of Snow Buntings, Northern Flickers, American Robins and scattered Horned Larks feeding in the now open fields.  Quite a few American Kestrels were out hunting along the roadsides, and we spotted our first pair of Ospreys for the season. There was no activity yet at the Great Blue Heron rookery, but by my past records they should be returning within a week or so.  A pair of Bald Eagles worked their way over a couple small ice-covered lakes while one single Eastern Bluebird lit my binoculars up with a burst of beautiful color.

The bird of the day was definitely Wild Turkeys, that were taking advantage of the lack of snowcover in almost every barren field.  We parked near a grassy area to watch them feeding on earthworms, as they hunkered down in tall grasses always keeping a wary eye on us and clucking softly. If the numbers we viewed today are any indication of their survival rate, they faired the past hard winter and deep snows quite well.

A fast moving Mourning Cloak butterfly showed itself for a very brief moment this afternoon in our clearing out back- and since I also received my first mosquito bite of the season a couple of days ago, I think it's safe in saying that spring is definitely upon us- and none too soon!



The mind can weave itself warmly in the cocoon of its own thoughts, and dwell a hermit anywhere. (J.R.Rowe)


I've recentlly returned from yet another hospital stay, once again for broken ribs and pnuemonia.  I now spend a good part of my time sheltered in self-made cocoons of many soft pillows, heating pads and 'bed buddies' (wonderful therapuetic pads that can be heated in microwaves).  

 Although I have plenty of unread books and a pile of good dvd's to enjoy, I am prone to long periods of watching the bird activity outside my windows.  We have more Pine Siskin this year than we've ever had during any winter season since living in this area. Dozens upon dozens flit around the thistle feeders from sunup to sundown.  Then there's the seasonal Common Redpolls, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Brown Creepers to keep an eye on and the young Cooper's Hawk that visits almost daily now.  The white-tailed deer still make a few sorrays from the woods each day to feed on the spent thistle that lies right under the windowsill.  If anything, they are creatures of habit, and I look forward to their visits.

This has been such a bitterly cold winter thus far, but the temps rose up above freezing for the first time in many weeks today.  I'm hoping to get out for at least a short drive soon to search for White-winged Crossbills.  They've passed through here briefly, but since we have very few conifers for them to feed on, we'll have to visit nearby pine forests to view good numbers of them.  From the reports I've been reading on the irruptions this season, they're numerous throughout the lower peninsula and they're such a great bird to watch with their specialized bills and unique feeding habits. 

We're one month closer to spring.  One month closer to open windows, fresh air, birdsong, moths, flowers, frogs chorusing.. color-noise.  But for now, my cocoons are keeping me cozy and the winter creatures are keeping me in good company.






Winter World

There's no doubt that this winter season has started off with a huge white bang. Storm after storm has repeatedly dumped major precipitation on our area, at times making travel precarious and more than a bit hazardous. We''ve had extremely cold temperatures for this time of year and the weather is already taking a toll on the local wildlife. The snow was so deep earlier this week that it was up over the bellies of the yearling deer and squirrels have now become aboreal creatures, avoiding the ground whenever possible.

While out viewing area rivers earlier this week, we came across many wild turkeys that were walking down the plowed roadsides- they refused to fly into the deep snow, despite the oncoming traffic, and we sadly viewed a few carcasses that told the story without words. (My hubby always moves them off the road so wildlife that is drawn to the roadkill won't become roadkill as well)  The same can be said for Ring-necked Pheasants and most other gamebirds. We've viewed more pheasants this past two weeks than we have most of the year- all walking down the middle/sides of roads. When snow becomes this deep, it's not only difficult for wildlife to get around, it's also difficult for them to find sources of food.  When salt trucks hit the roads, large swirling  flocks of Snow Buntings and others gather around the salt/grit mix hungrily.  Since we're in an area where there are plenty of dairy farms that routinely spread manuer over the snowcovered fields, we're seeing good numbers of birds around these areas, especially Horned Larks. The manuer provides much needed nourishment.

We viewed the tell-tale tracks of river otters and fox and the nearby white pines held a few busy Golden-crowned Kinglets.  Several Ruffed Grouse were feeding on small buds in the taller reaches of the trees that line the riverbank, and we spotted one lone Hermit Thrush. So despite the hardships, our winter-world is quite beautiful, and quite full of delightful sights and sounds. (I'm still ready for spring though!) ;)