While I often share my paintings here, I have rarely shared my personal reference photos. I will be posting some of my favorite bird photos over the next few months, organized month-by-month, as well as some thoughts on each month. First is January.
When it is January in north Michigan, a blanket of snow several inches deep will often cover the ground. At night, temperatures can drop below zero. This is the time of year when the chickadees look like small fluffed up balls as they sit on snow encrusted branches, and the hardy Blue Jays are frequent and loud visitors to the yard feeder.
January, when I took this photo of two chickadees, is also a challenging time to watch birds. Even in thick winter clothes and heavy gloves, sitting out in the yard to catch a backyard visitor can result in near-frostbite for human fingers. But winter is also the season when the birds are friendliest – they seem to appreciate the sunflower seeds and suet set out for them, and will perch within inches of me on a nearby bush. I have noticed one chickadee that seems bravest – he is the first one to the bird feeder when I come out to take photos, and has learned to ignore my pointing a camera at him, which is how I got a decent close-up using my cell phone. I am hoping that soon he will feed out of my hand, since he will eat seeds dropped on the ground right in front of where I sit.
There is a stark beauty in the cold, ice and snow of January in north Michigan. The sunrises can be spectacular, and the landscape becomes a frozen ice carving created by the finger of God, with piled up clouds and northern light infusing the atmosphere.
Lake Huron’s numerous small bays and inlets are freezing over. The Canadian Geese that choose to stick around in spite of winter temperatures (I assume they have a steady food source from kind humans who live next to the lake) can be seen floating in the watery patches that are still unfrozen. Mallard ducks can also be seen braving icy waters on the nearly frozen lakeside. I admire their ability to survive in this cold, and love watching them.