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Tag Archives: winter

American Kestrels are the smallest falcons in North America. This tiny raptor has a wingspan of 22 inches and weighs 4.1 ounces. It eats small mammals, insects and today it ate a finch from our feeder. This bird is a male because of the blue on its wings. It was minus four this morning before the sun came out. Normally this bird has a sleek appearance but it fluffed its feathers in order to keep warm.

The holiday season was a blur of events and meals and non-stop entertainment. A week into the new year and I am beginning to feel ‘normal’ again. So far the snow in the valley is less than normal but the groomed trails are in good shape for skate skiing and classic skiing. The Loup even opened up for New Years. Here’s hoping for more snow and winter fun in the Methow.

Last Sunday we had a good snowfall and I was thankful I’d filled the bird feeders the afternoon before. The finches and juncos appreciated it too. And then, I noticed three Red-winged Blackbirds at the feeders. Oh dear. There have been winters when the blackbirds stayed and didn’t migrate to warmer climates and each day they would empty the feeders in no time. I like blackbirds, especially when they are singing over a cattail marsh in the spring and early summer. But if they are going to be coming to the feeder all winter, I might need to start a fund raiser to buy seeds for them.

The three birds soon left and I figured they would be back with their friends. That’s just the way they are. Well. They had a lot of friends. Soon, there were waves and waves of Red-winged Blackbirds coming up from the valley floor. I estimated at least 250 birds. It was like that old Alfred Hitchcock movie. Every tree, snag and bush in sight of the feeders was covered with them. Some of them got to the feeders but most just stood around or flew around and watched. After a while they all left. Later in the afternoon the big group returned. Since then I’ve only seen smaller groups of blackbirds here. What a relief. Maybe they will just come on snowfall days? I would not have even guessed there were that many Red-winged Blackbirds in this valley at this time of year.

Our friend Wyatt Ann came to visit earlier in the month. She’s a sweet dog but she does like to tell Sky how things are going to be. Sky is easy going so she generally doesn’t mind much. One way Wyatt shows her control is to get something that Sky likes. Like a stick.

The hills are still covered with snow. And the floors in the house are covered with grit. My car is covered with mud. Yesterday it was almost sixty degrees, Fahrenheit. And there is snow in this week’s forecast. Spring officially, is only one week away. This is Mud Season.

The girls and I try to get out and walk early when the snow is hard enough to support our weight. Sometimes it supports them but not me. If we are late, then we only have muddy, and in shady places icy, roads to walk on. Yesterday we ran into our friends Frida, Quincy and Mary Ann, also hoping to find a good place to walk. It is a challenge this time of year.

Migratory birds are arriving everyday. One person has already seen a hummingbird in the valley so I put out a feeder. Both bluebirds, Say’s Phoebes, American Robins, Violet-green Swallows and other migrants are already here. They certainly think it’s spring.

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