A Gardening Year

The adventures and misadventures of an heirloom gardener

Monday, January 24, 2005


We had our first large storm of the year Saturday night. A blizzard, not a Nor'Easter. The predictions had originally been for up to 2 feet of snow. My best guess is that we got around a foot. I was out all night shoveling it. It was pretty moderate until about 5 AM when the wind really began to howl and the snow to come down heavily. I love storms. I love the sound of the wind, the rain, the snow. Any chance for Mother Nature to show off. My last house had a wrap-around porch and I would sit out there and watch thunderstorms in the summer.

When I went out at 7 AM for a final time before going to sleep, I was surprised to find a flock of birds at the birdfeeder. I would have thought they would be sheltering somewhere out of the wind and snow. As I watched and listened, I realized I hadn't seen these birds before. They were gray with white undersides and had the prettiest song. It was difficult to tell their size since they had their feathers fluffed out for warmth. They looked like feather balls with beaks, wings and tails. When I finished shoveling and went inside, I got out my chart of Common Feeder Birds of the Northeast and identified them as slate-colored juncos. Then I got to wondering why I hadn't seen them during the summer. I did a little research tonight and discovered that juncos breed in Canada and winter in the US. They are nicknamed "snowbirds" because they only appear here in the winter. They nest on or near the ground and supposedly feed on the ground. They weren't feeding on the ground in my backyard. They were up on the feeder probably because all the seed I had thrown on the ground was covered with snow. I'm glad I filled the feeder before the storm. I will be sure to throw some more seed under it when I get home in the morning.


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