Winter is a wonderful time to get outside and observe the natural beauty and sparkling world of snow. Freshly fallen flakes seem to glitter and newly made tracks in the snow offer stories of who’s been around and what they’ve been up to. The silent world of snow muffles sound, absorbing even animal noises with great efficiency. After a few days, crusted snow will be littered with an interesting collection of seeds, often from birches, basswood, and hemlock. Notice the frost – on windows, trees, rocks, or any other surface – as it takes on an endless number of beautiful patterns.
Birding in winter can be a fun and exciting experience. Prop your retired Christmas tree near your bird feeder and provide birds with shelter and protection from the wind. If you have a feeder you can observe native birds up close and keep a tally of your visitors. Looking for food in the winter is an arduous and continual task for the birds and they’ll seek out mountain ash berries, sumac berries, and even ivory colored poison ivy seeds. Woodpeckers are digging out wood-boring beetle larvae from tree trunks, a favorite fat-rich food. When the snow becomes deep and mice can hide well below the surface, owls and other predators struggle to eat. Then they tend to show up where they can find easier prey… like your bird feeder.