Cottontail Rabbit

moon phase Week of 01/21/2007 Poor time for planting.

The wild bird activity at the bird feeders has been slow for the past month and a half. Oh, a dozen chickadees and Blue jays come every day, along with several white-breasted nuthatches, 8 to 10 woodpeckers, and a dozen Juncos. Those numbers are about half as many birds as there were this time last year. Also, there are only four Cardinals hanging around, as compared to 8 or 10 last year. Goldfinch and Purple finch sightings are rare at the feeders this winter. Why? The warm weather has allowed them to be less dependent on my free handouts, and they seem to have dispersed to the countryside.

Cottontail Rabbit

Today, for the first time in many weeks, the birds that did show up at the feeders ate like there was no tomorrow. From sun-up to sunset, it was a veritable feeding frenzy, all the birds concentrating on just one thing, eating. Whenever I see them so busy around the feeders, it tells me they know the weather is going to turn cold. The forecast for the next couple of days calls for ten to 15 degree temperatures, and maybe, just maybe, some snow. I find that wild birds are the most reliable weather forecasters.

By mid-January, the foxes have started their courtship and mating seasons. They will pair up and start spending much of their time together, hunting and playing. There are probably a fair number of foxes in the Kickapoo Valley area, but it's rare to see one. A beautiful Red fox is much easier to spot against a snowy landscape. The trick is getting some snow; there hasn't been enough to cover the ground since November. It's hard to believe, but for the season so far we've gotten only six inches of snow, total.

Saturday night left a half inch of pretty white snow that was enough to track a cat in. I didn't see any cat tracks Sunday morning, but clearly there had been a couple of bunnies around the house during the night. I hadn't seen them for a couple of months, and they were nowhere to be found in the morning, but their tracks in the new snow gave them away.

An additional 4 to 8 inches of snow are predicted for Sunday night and Monday—guess I'll have to see it to believe it. If we get that much, the activity around the bird feeders should pick up considerably. I wouldn't be surprised if the turkeys showed up for a handout. We'll have to just wait and see; like the turkeys, live each day as it comes.

Monday morning: Seeing is believing indeed! I had to get the shovel out to make a path through the four inches of fluffy, white snow that fell overnight. The snow always means there's more work to do, but I found I didn't mind. It's finally a winter wonderland here in southwest Wisconsin, and things seem to be back to normal.

Naturally yours,
Dan

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