Nature Notes by Bonnie Dundas
Lisa from Shaftsbury asks a very good question: Where are all the birds? We have noted here that there are times when the feeders are bustling, and other times when we have just a few of our regular visitors. We have not been able to determine what makes a busy day. It doesn’t seem to get any busier before the storms we have had or to fluctuate with the temperatures. Windy days keep the numbers down. We have a Coopers hawk that makes periodic visits, sometimes just a flyover that scatters the flocks. We have only one junco and three tree sparrows, but a good number of white-throated sparrows this winter. In the past we always had song sparrows, but they deserted us this year. Blue jay numbers fell to two until this week, when a dozen appeared raucously taking over the feeders. We have one female red-bellied woodpecker coming every day that was joined by a male this week. Cardinal numbers are up and we are still seeing flocks of robins, starlings and cedar waxwings. There are early signs of spring to look forward to in February. Turkey vultures and male red-winged blackbirds appear. Great horned owls lay eggs and brood them, goldfinches start to show a brighter yellow, titmice and chickadees sing snatches of their songs, woodpeckers start drumming to establish territory, skunk cabbage flowers open in wetlands and you might even spy a mourning cloak butterfly. When out skiing or walking on a sunny day, look for snow fleas on the surface of the snow. They look like tiny pieces of pepper jumping around. As in December, January had very few nights that were good for star-gazing. It was disappointing to miss the eclipse because of the last snow storm. The stars are so clear in the winter sky. See if you can find the Hare running away from Orion. Its ears are located below first magnitude star Rigel (or Orion’s foot). Venus and Jupiter are the two planets easy to see in the east in the morning. Let us get through February and really start seeing signs of spring in March. You can get in touch with me at 802-447-7433 or email@example.com.