Saturday, January 31, 2009
A Warming Trend
I had the great experience this past week of being able to take some of my students on a winter overnight at a local park. The facilities included 8 small log cabins and a lodge. The cabins have no electricity and are heated by a wood stove. Meals are cooked outside over a wood fire. This is our yearly trip to introduce kids to some basic winter ecology and expose them to an experience they might not have chosen to do on their own. To make it really interesting, we always pick the last week of January for the trip. As always it was a fun time and everyone survived.
While the kids were out working with the park naturalists on a hike, I got to hang around the bird feeder station and play with the new camera. It was a very active day with the temperature right around 15 degrees. The little fellow above was one of only two Common Redpolls that were at the feeder that day.
Black-capped Chickadees however, were all over the place. If they weren't on the feeders they were perched on the surrounding vegetation waiting for their turn like this one on some burdock.
Over the course of the afternoon I was able to show some of the kids great looks at a variety of common feeder birds. We saw 4 species of woodpeckers including a Pileated that came into the suet feeder and stayed for quite a while. The other woodpecker species seen were Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied. I had hoped to see some of the White-winged Crossbills that have moved down to the upper midwest in such large numbers that they seem to be everywhere. They didn't show up. On the other hand, the next morning as we were preparing to head back to school I spotted a Barred Owl sitting in a tree just up the hill from the lodge. It's nice to have the opportunity to have as much fun as the kids on these trips.
With the warmer temperatures today I think the birds wills be more active than the last few days around my house. Hopefully I'll see some activity while I try to clear my sidewalk of the ice and snow.