It was fun in the morning to see what kind of fresh tracks were made in the new snow. A rabbit had made his way through the snow, leaving his tell-tale footprints under the bird feeder in the backyard. A pair of deer left their tracks in the wet snow as they walked through the garden. It was plain to see where they stopped to sniff around for anything that might be edible. Tiny juncos left little scrapes in the snow as they tried to kick pieces of cracked corn out from under the white blanket. The 3-1/2 inch layer of snow on top of the woodpile displayed the pigeon-toed tracks of a crow who had walked along the length of the stacked logs.
The star-shaped tracks of an opossum came from the barn. He had been sleeping under an old pile of lumber inside, and now that the weather had warmed, he was out looking for something to satisfy his hunger. The tracks led around the back of the barn to the compost bin. Of course, there's always something here for a hungry possum.
The tiny tracks of a deer mouse led over to the cellar door and disappeared inside. Retracing the steps of the little mouse, I could see where he had hopped through the snow until he was under one of the bird feeders. The tracks stopped where he had climbed up the post the feeder is mounted on. No doubt he fetched a mouth full of bird seed and scampered back to the basement to hide it for future use. He's probably been doing this all winter, but I didn't know until I found his tracks in the snow. I couldn't help but wonder where all those stashed of seed were hid in the basement.
As I walked around the house, I startled a fat gray squirrel on the ground under a large box elder. She dashed to the tree trunk and in a flash, she had scurried up and out to the end of a branch. Snow she kicked loose fell to the ground all around me, but she never lost her footing, Without hesitation, she leapt to the branches of a nearby tree, sending snow flying in every direction. The wet snow didn't slow her down at all, and she soon ducked into a hole high up in the tree. I heard her scolding bark from inside the tree as I walked away.
I cleaned the snow off all the bird feeders and sprinkled fresh cracked corn and sunflower seeds on them, to the delighted chirps of the nuthatches and chickadees. I then took some old, weathered moose antlers and placed them on the ground under the lower branches of a nearby spruce tree. I like to use those antlers as a bird feeder, because I can place them anywhere in the yard, where I can watch them. Almost any old thing that will hold a little seed makes a good bird feeder - an old shoe, a hat, a pretty plate or a pan, half a coconut shell or a turtle shell. It's fun to be creative with things that are just lying around, and these portable feeders can be placed anywhere you want them for bird watching.
I have drawn eleven different birds in this week's picture. They are all birds that come to my yard through the winter. Can you name them? (Answers are below).
Bird answers (left to right): Downy woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, slate collared junco, goldfinch, red-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, cardinal, tufted titmouse, mourning dove, and black- capped chickadee.
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