Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow, the Wind and Rain

The snow has changed to rain. Bleech!

We are being assaulted by high winds and blasting sheets of rain. The rain is changing back and forth from liquid form to its slightly more solid forms of snow or sleet. This weather is just an inconvenience for most of us, but it always makes me worry about the birds and animals that have few options for getting out of such nasty weather.
Male eastern bluebird giving me the "More suet-dough please!" look.

Our bluebirds are keyed in to the suet dough once again. Perhaps its due to the cold and wet, or maybe they've already eaten all the large, obvious grasshoppers from the meadow. It's clear that the grapes and sumac fruits are rapidly disappearing—mostly down the throats of cedar waxwings, American robins, and European starlings. In any case we're keeping the feeders fully stocked with peanuts, sunflower seed, regular suet, and suet dough.

Having the bluebirds around the house reminds me it's time to winterize the nest boxes—many of which are used nightly by the bluebirds and by downy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, Carolina chickadees, tufted titmice, and Carolina wrens. I'll get the roll of Mortite and warm it up in my pocket as I walk the bluebird trails. A four-inch strip will plug the vent holes at the top of the box keeping wet and cold weather outside and more bird body heat inside the boxes. I like thinking of a pair of bluebirds finding a cozy nighttime roost in a nest box with dry grass on the inside floor and weatheripped vent holes.

Female eastern bluebird.

This got me thinking about my own ability to escape the winter weather. If I had the means, I'd certainly spend much of the winter in the tropics. Not Florida or Arizona. I mean the serious tropics, where the common blue bird you see is a blue-gray tanager.

Blue-gray tanager.

It's a nice fantasy. Must find that buried treasure first. And buy lottery tickets.

In the meantime I think I'll winterize the nest boxes here....

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At 3:32 PM, Blogger Tom said...

Bill, I really like the shot of the female bluebird. Excellent color and pose.

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great blog. We hung several new birdhouses this summer, so there is nothing inside them. Should be put some dog hairs in them? Or will be birds put something in for themselves? I would love to think they are using them for shelter this winter.

At 11:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We would love to give our bluebirds suet dough...unfortunately the starlings invariably get to it first and it attracts them to our yard, which every summer successfully hosts Purple Martins, Tree Swallows and Eastern Bluebirds. Starlings are not good for that!! So we spend the big money on mealworms to keep the blues happy over the winter.
Ka ching!
Love the blog, Bill!

At 2:17 AM, Blogger Marvin said...

Sounds as if y'all had a spell of really funky weather. Keep those bluebirds warm and happy. Great photos.

At 6:53 AM, Blogger Jayne said...

Love the bluebird shots! Made my first batch of Zick dough yesterday and the first taker was my female Bluebird. :c)

At 8:31 PM, Blogger Mary said...

During the blizzard of 03 in DE, I shoveled my way to the feeders and made sure the flocks of red-winged blackbirds were fed. The Eastern Bluebirds found a water source at the heated pond. We do all we can to invite them.

Great post, Bill. Your photos are super.

At 10:13 AM, Blogger dguzman said...

Ah, the birding we'd do if we could just win the lotto! I often imagine doing nothing but birding all day long in some exotic locales--once I find that buried treasure. That blue-gray tanager is stunning.

At 12:22 PM, Blogger Michele (Rocky Mtn.Girl) said...

Absolutely amazing pictures! The bluebird is gorgeous.
The Rocky Mountain Retreat

At 12:40 PM, Blogger Heather said...

Great photos, Bill. I'm a little jealous of your wintering nest box residents, though. We built and put up a roost box several years ago, and so far we've had no takers... ever (we have a small infrared camera in there that we check from time to time, and we've never seen any evidence of use, let alone seeing an actual bird). We think there must be something wrong with the box, otherwise why wouldn't they use it on nights when it's frigid outside? Can you offer any insight?

At 6:30 AM, Blogger T.R. said...

wind,rain,ice - welcome to my world - no power for one week. sometimes I think I was meant to migrate too.


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