Saturday, December 29, 2012

Winter in the Forest

We've had a little dusting of snow in the foothills the last few days.
The skies have been clear but heavy with early morning fog.
It is quiet, with only the sound of my resident birds, twittering in the underbrush.
This morning I saw one of 'my' Anna's Hummingbirds. She came to my new feeder!
These little flying jewels winter over here! This is the first year I have fed them. I know there are at least two of them.
We are just below the 'snow line'.
But the forecast calls for mild temperatures, so no snow for us.
Everything is so green and white.
With the faint red tinge of bare branches.
As I zoom in, I can see individual trees highlighted against the mist.
I saw a pair of Bald Eagles the other day, hunting over the river valley.

Sometimes they are accompanied by Ravens.

Whenever the skies open up, and especially if there is some wind, we see the birds of prey.
Eagles often fly with companions.
I've seen Eagles with several different types of Hawks and of course, the Ravens, all circling together on the thermals.
I always know when there is an Eagle around.
My resident Stellar Jay's mimic their calls.

They are the 'watchdogs' of the forest.

I love finding their beautiful blue striped feathers.
There has been a smaller bird of prey haunting the songbirds the last few weeks, a Cooper's Hawk. He is very fast and agile.
I always know when he is around.
It is silent.
No twitters. No warning cries from the Stellar Jays.
Just silence.
Everyone is hiding in the underbrush.

 When the sun comes out, the yard is full of activity. Squirrels scamper about and ground feeding birds scratch and search for tasty morsels. I have noticed if I leave some leaves lying on the lawn, this encourages worms and grubs to hide underneath, giving the birds a tasty snack. Yesterday I watched a whole flock of Varied Thrushes work their way across the lawn.
 These beautiful birds have a one-note, ethereal, reedy call.
Their calls are particularly noticeable on a still winter day.
They, along with the Stellar Jay's, like to eat the dry dog food I leave out for them.
Two of my favorite little birds that come to my feeders are the Dark Eyed Junco on the left and the Red Breasted Nuthatch which are fearless and allow me to get up close whenever I fill the feeder.
They travel in little flocks along with Chickadees.
I love to hear them talking amongst themselves, chirping and twittering and fluttering about.

A few weeks ago we stopped using our wood stove for a couple of days.
The Mr. wanted to clean it out.
When he opened the doors to light the fire again, a little bird flew out into the house!
Luckily for him, the wood box was nice and clean and he didn't get covered in soot.
We opened up the doors and out he flew into the night, just in time! My cat Maggie had discovered him and was giving chase. I felt sorry that he might have been in there a day or more. I never heard a thing.
The Mr. has to clean the chimney this weekend and will put new screening up.
So even though the Forest appears to be still and quiet this time of year, there is plenty of activity going on.
Especially if you are a bird!
What kinds of birds are you seeing these days?


  1. What a wonderful post for this bird lover! You have many different varieties than we do here in Indiana. You are lucky to have hummingbirds in the winter. We have bald eagles on the Wabash River near town, but I have yet to see one. That's one bird I'm really looking forward to put on my life list. Have a great weekend!

    1. Thank you, Cindy, I hope you get to see your bald eagle soon! It's a sight you never forget! xx

  2. Such lovely prose and photos, Karen! It's all white here with more coming down at the moment...with over a foot on the ground already. The tarmac leading where the garages are looks just like a skating rink...don't think I'll go skating today!

    1. Thank you and My goodness, Dianne, you have been hit this winter, haven't you? I'll bet it is beautiful, but treacherous to drive in! Stay safe! xx

  3. I can't imagine being able to see that view every day. I would be in heaven :)

    1. Thank you, so nice! The very reason we stayed here all these years despite the hardships! xx

  4. What beautiful photographs of all the nature that surrounds you. It must be nice to have snow to look at, but not to have to shovel! The story of your bird in the woodstove reminds me of the time, just before we left on a long three-week summer journey, we discovered a squirrel had fallen down our chimney and into the (cold) furnace. We let it out and it made an absolute mess of our basement before finding its way out the open door. But not before several of its pals came tumbling down after it! We did leave on our trip eventually, having fixed the net over the chimney, a few hours later and with lots of dirty paw-prints all over our whitewashed basement walls and the sheets that were hung up to dry on the lines down there! No squirrels came to any harm, though.

    1. Thank you, Dearest Christine, things like that always happen right before going on vacation, don't they? I can picture you holding your hands over your eyes now! Soot is near to impossible to clean up - I hope you didn't have to repaint - but so sweet that you saved the little squirrel family! Hugs xx

  5. What gorgeous landscape shots! You live in such a beautiful area. Those birds are so pretty and colorful! Great closeups! I've been seeing a lot of woodpeckers and cardinals out here lately.

    1. Thanks, Tammy! So do you! It must be beautiful to see the bright cardinals and woodpeckers against the white snow! We don't have cardinals here. I would love to see one! xx

  6. The eagle is awesome, and I love the silhouetted raven. The little birds are cute. I still haven't mastered taking bird pictures. They seem to fly away from me :) it's snowing cats and dogs here, up to 6 inches. Have a lovely New Year :)

    1. Thank you, Loredana, Happy New Year! Your snow must be so beautiful! Stay warm :)

  7. Dearest Karen,
    We for sure don't see the beautiful Stellar Jays here, only the Blue Jays and they are the loud and noisy street-guys. Neither do we have the Varied Thrushes but that might be because we don't spill any dog food... Hawks yes and Juncos, Tit mice, Nuthatches, Red Cardinals, Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers and my favorite hyper Carolina Wrens. They are so much fun to watch. Robins we got plenty too. Of course there are more.
    You are such a great observer of nature in its resting stage. Amazing are those tiny Anna's Hummingbirds! That such a tiny body can keep warm during the freezing winter time. They must be able to hide some place sheltered and out of the wind.
    Enjoy your place and thanks for writing it down and sharing with us! Enjoy the last days of the 2012 calendar and let's all move happily into the New Year of 2013.

    1. Thank you, Mariette for your lovely New Year's wishes. I do hope your New Year holds many blessings for you and Peiter! xx

  8. Oh my, the landscape is amazingly beautiful. A gorgeous scenery, dear Karen.
    Wishing you a sparkling 2013 may the New Year be filled with lots of laughters x

    1. Dear Saskia, thank you for your sweet New Year's wishes and I wish all the same and more for you! xx

  9. Those little dark eyed juncos are so sweet! Best wishes for a joyous, peace-filled and creative New Year!

    1. I love the junco's, too! Thank you for your dear wishes! xx

  10. What lovely pictures! I'm not seeing any birds! My garden is usually full of all sorts both on the ground but at the feeders. My daughter put the feeders up ready for my return from hospital thinking hat I'd enjoy to watch them. I can only think its because we had our daughters cat here as a lodger for a couple of months. She's been gone a month now. I wonder how long it will be before the birds come back? Joan

    1. Thank you, Joan. I am so happy to hear you are home from hospital! I think your birds will be back; whenever we move the feeders it takes a while before they come back. Best New Year's wishes for you, Joan! xx

  11. This time of year, we see a lot of poule d'eau in the bayou. Some people call them coots. We also have white and blue herons and Canadian geese. Birdwatching is something I really missed when living in Paris. All we saw were pigeons! <3


Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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