Monthly Archives: January 2014


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Snow snow snow! It snowed! It snowed! There is snow! It stuck and everything! EEEEE! Snow!

Snow is the best, when you live in a climate that doesn’t get it often. It’s the one childhood magic that doesn’t go away when you stop believing in it. (It can, mind you, smother you under the weight of grim familiarity, but even after nearly a decade in Minnesota, I still found the first snow of winter exciting.)

Now, in a perfect world, where the weather gods have me on as a consultant, we’d have gotten about another inch, since it’s not quite enough to do that thick white blanket that obscures all the edges of everything, which is the best snow. But there is snow!

Every bird that ever visits the feeder is out–a whole fleet of White-Throated Sparrows, three Cardinals, one crazy-eyed Brown Thrasher, a couple Goldfinches and the local White-Breasted Nuthatch. Plus a handful of Juncos and Titmice and Carolina Chickadees. There are fat Mourning Doves squatting on the fence.

Thrush-Bob is sitting on the porch among his mealworms, fluffed up to softball size.

We have plenty of mealworms, plenty of sunflower seeds, and absolutely no reason to leave the house at all. We both work at home, the internet’s working, there is lots of coffee, and it is a glorious day to be snowbound.

Species #1: Blue-headed Vireo

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So I actually did wind up making a New Year’s Resolution, which you can read about here.

Fifty Species Goal

My current yardlist of resident/visiting species is well over 300, which sounds really impressive but is less so than you might think. The impressive bit is that I actually got down on my hands and knees and looked for the darn things, and that’s more a tribute to the weirdness of my hobbies. There is an extraordinary amount of life out there if you know where to look…and aren’t actively trying to nuke it from orbit, of course.

In my perfect world (such as it is) we would all consider the number of species in our yards to be a source of inordinate pride. They’d give us property tax breaks for biodiversity. The perfect sterile lawn would be treated with mild contempt and HOAs would leave you faux-concerned notes stating that your grass was too short and appeared to be a monoculture. When you sold the house, your real estate listing would mention that there were spotted salamanders and ovenbirds breeding on the lot.

Oh well. Fantasy aside, the point is, I’ve knocked off a fair bit of the low-hanging fruit, and if I want to increase the count, I have to A) be lucky and B) actually get in there and look closely and track down IDs, not just throw my hands in the air and go “I dunno, it’s a bee.”

Fortunately for me, I got a surprise guest the other day, a lovely little blue-headed vireo attracted to the open water in the birdbath. This is an insect-eating species, although they’ll nosh on fruit in the winter (I think the suet may have interested him a bit, and perhaps the rose hips.) This particular vireo’s population is actually increasing, making them a rare good news story in the bird world. (Go, Team Vireo!)

So that’s one down and forty-nine to go…