The wild birds were very busy at the feeders, going through the sunflower seeds like crazy. They sensed that snow was coming. I counted 62 cardinals. Sure is a pretty sight but, wow, can they eat. There are only about 30 black-capped chickadees. I can’t remember having more cardinals than chickadees at the feeders.

Chickadee in the Hand

Chickadee in the Hand

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

The suet feeder has been getting worked over, too. Even the little tufted-titmouse has been getting his share of beef tallow. The chickadees are waiting for me to bring out some more seed in the late afternoon. They don’t hesitate to land in my hand when I hold out some sunflower seeds, and it feels good to know they trust me.

Doe

Doe

Then came another six inches of new snow to shovel: a path to the road, one to the shed and another to the spring creek. The snow wasn’t heavy, and I know the exercise does me more good than harm. I can’t help but think about the deer in the valley. They are already pressed to search for food day and night, and another six inches of snow won’t help their fight to survive the winter. It snowed Monday night and was still coming down Tuesday morning when I went out to sweep off the back steps.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

Some blue jays got my attention when they started to mob something in the cedar trees on the hillside above the house. I thought maybe the Cooper’s hawk was back, hidden from view in the boughs of the tree, but to my surprise, it was a barred owl. The jays were mad at him, but didn’t venture too close. The owl merely stared at them through half-closed eyes. After about half an hour, the jays gave up on the motionless owl and went back to the bird feeders. I saw the same owl twice in the next two days, both times in broad daylight. If he were catching enough to eat at night, he wouldn’t have to be out hunting during the day. I’ve heard the owls calling to each other for the past couple of weeks, but  I rarely ever see them. I’m thinking of putting up a nesting box for them. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I’ve been seeing a few bluebirds in the areas this week. The first migrants are starting to pass through. I want to be ready for them, so I’ll get out the bluebird houses and clean them out.

Red-Tailed Hawk Mating

Red-Tailed Hawk Mating

We got a sunny day Saturday, and the temperature rose to nearly 40 degrees. I saw a red-tailed hawk fly up to the top of a utility pole about a half mile way. I had the camera so I snapped a couple of quick pictures of him and went on my way without giving the hawk another thought. He was too far way to see very well, so I thought I would just have a picture of another hawk on a pole. Checking the photos later, I came across the picture and, to my surprise, realized there were two red-tailed hawks mating. The hawks’ season has come. Soon, the female will be sitting over a couple of eggs in her stick nest located high in an oak tree overlooking the valley.

Snowman with Friends

Snowman with Friends

Thursday afternoon I noticed that the snow was just right for making a snowman. Figuring it might by my last chance, I got right to it. It was fun, and it didn’t take me long to roll some nice round balls of snow and stack them. Sometimes I make a snowwoman to keep him company, but I didn’t have a proper hat that she would look good in. No woman would be caught dead wearing the hat I gave the snowman. He had plenty of company after all, because I sprinkled some bird seed around him and, in no time, the colorful little birds gathered around his feet. That gave him a reason to have a smile on his face.

Snowman with curious deer

Snowman with curious deer

Three deer came to the edge of the yard in the late afternoon, but when they spotted the strange new snowperson, they wouldn’t come any further. It took two hours before one of the yearlings ventured up for a closer look. I had no idea that the snowman would have such an effect on the deer, but they finally realized he was no danger to them. Now there are two people they can trust: me and the snowman.

With the temperatures in the upper 30s and some rain, the snow began to melt quickly. By late Sunday afternoon, the sound of rushing water could he heard in the ditches and the valleys. At this rate, the snow will be gone in a week and the snowman too, I suppose.

Bald-faced Hornet's Nest

Bald-faced Hornet’s Nest

Above the rushing water a bald-faced wasp’s nest dangles at the end of an elm branch. It spent the whole winter there and is till in pretty fair shape, except for where the woodpeckers tore a large hole in the bottom of it. It’s only made of paper so I don’t think it will last long once the spring rains have had their way with it.

Spring is picking up its pace more and more each day, while winter lags behind. The weather has been very typical for March, cold and warm, sunshine and rain, windy and calm, melting snow and bluebirds. It’s a month that will challenge our ability to have patience, yet hints at the promise of a green future.

Naturally yours,

Dan