I will be posting photos taken throughout the year in this online journal.
This is a bitter, very cold winter even for northern Michigan. I am feeding the Chickadees and Jays daily, and they seem grateful. The chickadees have become quite tame, and will let me near. I am hoping to teach them to feed out of my hand this winter.
The bays and inlets are frozen, and each day the ice crust is creeping out a bit farther from the shore. The temperature is dipping in the teens and low 20’s. But the mornings are glorious: it’s as if God makes up for the bitter cold by painting in amazing sunrises and sunsets, with vivid colors that cause the snow at times to turn pink.
There is a pair of cardinals that come by for sunflower seeds. The female is quite shy, but I have been able to stand about forty feet away, and she will eat. The male is a bit bolder, as long as I don’t point a camera at him. When I do, he immediately flies off. But he seems to get along well with the chickadees, and I often see them eating together on the ground, where fallen seeds scatter.
Mid-month, another young cardinal has started visiting. His tail is unusually short and I wonder if he had a run-in with a predator, where he gave up his tail feathers in order to survive. He is friendlier than the other cardinal, and doesn’t seem to mind having his portrait taken.
As the weather gets colder, the jays are flocking to the bird feeder, and will chase away the chickadees. I know they are aggressive, noisy birds, and are more closely related to crows than songbirds, but I still think they are beautiful. There are three that come every day – I call them the “three amigos”, and they occasionally will get into arguments over food. Sometimes, I will step outside, knowing the jays and squirrels will scatter, in order to give the smaller birds a chance to feed.
A friend of mine who is a birdwatcher told me that a snowy owl has been sighted nearby. Another friend showed me a photo she snapped of it with her cell phone. I want a sighting, and day after day, I go to the locations where the owl has been seen, but without luck. Of course, the landscape here is pure white, and it would be easy for a snowy to look like another lump of snow on a tree at this time of year. I will keep looking, and pray that I see one of these beautiful birds.
The search for the owl did bring an unexpected, lovely sight though. On the drive past the bay, I saw a rough-legged hawk flying on the thermals above the cement plant in town. He was flying in lazy circles, and I was able to get some nice photos, which made the trip into town over icy roads worthwhile! His coloring is amazing, with flecks of dark, almost black brown against a creamy white, and I his flight created in me a feeling similar to prayer, as though I have gained a glimpse of something rare and wonderful.
When it snows, it is lovely as it falls in large, soft flakes. It looks like a Christmas card outside, with pine boughs covered with snow, and I am reminded why I love it here.