Love Songs

moon phase Week of 01/21/2013 Best days to cut firewood.

I can't complain; the weather has been pretty decent for the month of January. The week had seen temperatures in the teens at night and mid-to-high twenties during the day. The sunshine was welcomed, and it gave way to bright, twinkling stars and a Cheshire cat moon. It felt almost like spring on Saturday with a warm sun and 48 degrees. The wind picked up and started to howl after sunset, sending small branches to the ground and garbage cans rolling. Within a couple of hours the temperature dropped to ten degrees, and the melted snow puddles froze solid. The mercury dropped to fifteen-below-zero overnight and it felt suddenly more like January than March.

In spite of the cold, the very first signs of spring can be heard in the Kickapoo Valley, as the coyotes and red foxes begin their courtship season. The howling and yipping by the coyotes can be heard every night now. Their excited songs are passed on from valley to valley. The more subtle barking of the foxes is heard by only those who are listening for it. I'll keep my eyes and ears open for them—sure would be sweet to catch a red fox in the camera's lens.

Ice Falls Ice Falls Another courtship call can be heard in the evenings as pairs of great horned owls sing their love songs to each other. They are the first birds to start their seasonal love songs in Wisconsin, and they have chicks as early as February. If you want to hear the owls singing their songs, this is the best time of the year to listen. The horned owls will be less vocal once their eggs are laid, but the two adult owls will resume hooting to each other often after the eggs hatch.

These are the very first signs that Spring is on the way. I guess nature says it's okay to "think spring."

Whitetail Yearling Whitetail Yearling The icefalls are forming where tiny streams of water flow from limestone outcroppings. They are some of my favorite natural, winter art forms—common sights in the Kickapoo Valley.

A white-tailed yearling deer at the edge of the woods kept her head to the ground, sniffing out anything that smelled edible. I doubt she weighs 80 pounds—small for her age. She is notably smaller than most of the yearlings I've seen this year. Other than her size, she looks in good shape, in spite of having lost her mother to the recent hunting season. If the weather is kind to her, she should make it through the winter.

Yearling Opossom Yearling Opossom Whenever the temperature is above thirty degrees, one is apt to see an opossum out searching for food. Opossum don't have a real thick, warm coat of fur to keep them warm like other winter animals. Their ears and tails are completely hairless, and are at the mercy of the freezing temperatures, so when it's bitter cold, they hole-up to keep warm. The lucky little yearling opossum that I saw on Friday had discovered a dead turkey and was eating as much as he could hold.  Red-tailed Hawk Red-tailed Hawk He was a very small fella, and I doubt if he weighed three pounds, but he looked to be in good shape—his tail and ears hadn't even been frost bitten. As long as he's able to find food when it warms up, he should be just fine.

The local pair of red-tailed hawks have been hanging out in this small valley more often lately. I enjoy seeing these large hawks fly over the house, and it will be about a month before they get in a courtship mood.

Black/Gray Squirrel Black/Gray Squirrel That little black gray squirrel still comes to the bird feeder every morning. I think his home turf is quite a distance from here, because I only see him for about an hour before he's gone until the next day. I saw one of the tiny flying squirrels at the window feeder last night. They’re so cute with those big, round black eyes that help them see in the dark night.

Fox Squirrel Fox Squirrel I haven't noticed anything that may indicate the gray squirrels have "spring fever," but I expect they will start showing more interest in each other in the next week or two. On the other hand, I watched a pair of fox squirrels playing some love games—nothing too serious, just a little chasing after each other. It was a warm, sunny morning and these two were feeling their oats, but the next morning was below zero and the fox squirrels were too busy eating to think about each other.

White-breasted Nuthatch White-breasted Nuthatch I got a nice picture of a white-breasted nuthatch while he clung to the tree trunk, waiting for a turn at the suet feeder. I got an even better look at a female cardinal, but sadly, it was because she was dead on the gravel driveway next to my car. It was a nice day yesterday, so I washed some outside windows on the house, and the car windows as well. I felt pretty good about having clean, shiny windows for a change, until I found the dead cardinal later.  Female Cardinal in the Hand Female Cardinal in the Hand She apparently flew into the window, seeing the reflection of the trees in the glass. I felt some guilt the rest of the day, and I thought that the least I could do is show everyone how beautiful she is close up. I'm always reminded of where our good intentions often lead us.

Naturally Yours,

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Nann from from Philadelphia on January 25, 2013 at 10:49:35 AM
A slightly less sad variation on the bird-in-hand / clean windows and love-song theme:

Hummingbirds engaged in showy springtime courtship with aerial jousting matches sometimes knocked themselves unconscious on our large picture window overlooking the deck/feeding station.

When we witnessed the fallen combatant go down one of us would run out to pick up the seemingly or possibly dead bird ... protecting it against a possible cat ... and wait for the tiny thing to blink, look around blearily for a moment ...and then burst out of your hand ...right back into the airborne fray.
Dan Hazlett at Organic Valley

Dear Nann,

Sorry to hear that the hummingbirds sometimes bounce off your windows. Try placing the feeders at angles to the windows—a glancing blow isn’t nearly as bad as a direct hit.

If there are outside cats in the neighborhood, it’s always a good idea to rescue a downed bird as quickly as possible. Good for you! Have you ever had a hummingbird cry to you while you held it in your hand? It’s a high-pitched sort of a whine that tugs at your heart.

Thank you for the nice leter, Nann. I hope winter has been kind to you out in Philadelphia.

Naturally Yours,


Jan from from TN on January 24, 2013 at 10:47:54 PM
And we know, even with the cold and snow, the world of nature will once again wake, and our hearts it will grateful make. I felt sorry for the little Lady Cardinal when I saw your picture. Nature is not always "pretty", but it is nature. I do hope this last cold spell is easy on you and the firewood trips are not too frequent. Once again, thank you for the lovely letters you write for our enjoyment. Happy Naturing!
Dan Hazlett at Organic Valley

Dear Jan,

The cold spell didn’t last so long, and I’m grateful for that, but now there’s snow to shovel (ha!).  At least it keeps me warm. Your rhyming line put me back into a “think Spring” mode, even though it doesn’t feel like it now.

Good to hear from you, Jan.

Naturally Yours,


Ess from from Chicago on January 24, 2013 at 03:18:34 PM
Thanks for the grand sharing of your natural perspective:

And, speaking of "Love Songs" of the coyotes, foxes, et al, I thought you'd appreciate this "Love Message" a friend sent me today-- with a furry twist (from an Italian circus):
april from from boise idaho on January 24, 2013 at 11:28:27 AM
you need to consider a screen on the window. I had to screen all my windows because of birds. Not so easy to see them from inside but saved a lot of lives.
Dan Hazlett at Organic Valley

Dear April,

So sorry, but I suspect you misunderstood (or I was not totally clear, sorry!), but the female cardinal flew into the side window of my car (not my house). Unfortunately, I can’t put a screen on my car window. I would if I could, though. Thanks for the thought!

Good to hear from you, April.

Naturally Yours,


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