Sunday, January 26, 2014

Red-bellied Woodpecker Again

The feeders were very busy the last couple of days, primarily with many house finches (I counted as many as 22), but also with occasional nuthatches, goldfinches, chickadees, juncos and woodpeckers. This handsome fellow, a red-bellied woodpecker, has been coming by fairly often. I posted some photos of what is probably the same bird in December, but I can't get enough of his beautiful red-orange cap and dashing black tail feathers, that bold round eye and that formidable beak. He is quick to fly away if he senses movement from inside the house, so I always move slowly when I see him, trying not to spook him.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Victim of the Cold?

What effects of the recent extreme cold have you seen where you are? Since we emerged from the bitter cold snap of the week before last (though we're now in another, not quite as severe, wave of the same), I am sad to note that we haven't seen any red-breasted nuthatches, which are among my favorite small birds and which we previously saw frequently at our peanut feeder. I'm not sure if it was a single individual or a pair that visited us so regularly, but whichever it was, I fear it, or they, did not survive the arctic cold. I salute and remember them. And I'll let you know if, happily, we see them again.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Dragonfly at McKnight Prairie - Summer

How about a little respite from winter? I just found this draft post, which I'd started last summer. I was fascinated by the clear wings on this dragonfly that we spotted at the McKnight Prairie, and I spent time trying to identify it but never arrived at an answer. The dragonfly identification site I found didn't give an option for a clear-winged insect with a brown, tan or reddish abdomen, so I was at a loss. All ye odonata enthusiasts, feel free to chime in!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Into the Polar Vortex - and Out the Other Side

Wowee, what a ride it's been -- barely edging above zero the last two days after a low in Northfield of -23 F. Monday morning. It was warm last Friday, and then we went down, down, down, dropping 54 degrees in 48 hours according to this line graph, courtesy of the Carleton College weather database. That horizontal blue line is the zero point, and the top of the graph is 32 degrees -- the freezing point. The National Weather Service announced on Sunday that "historic and life-threatening cold air" had arrived, and I heard a TV host quoted as pointing out that at the coldest point it could be 50 degrees warmer and water would still freeze!

We topped off all our feeders on Saturday to help the birds get easy fuel to keep their inner furnaces burning through these frigid days and nights. It's hard to fathom how such tiny creatures survive such conditions, but it appears that many or most of our usual visitors are still with us.

To follow up my New Year's photo of a house finch in snow, here is another, enjoying the sun before it got so very cold. Welcome back, warmth!