I walk for wellness but this morning I came home with a stiff neck! I watched wave after wave of geese flying high and with purpose, all moving in a northerly direction. Three or four thousand birds passed overhead in an hour, many of them so high they were more easily heard than seen, dark specs strung out across the puffy white clouds.
Spring water splashing and freezing over moss-covered rocks creates one of my favorite winter macros. I often photograph the same site, knowing that these are incredibly dynamic landscapes that never repeat. They’re also fleeting. I had hoped to do more with this particular formation but the next day found nothing but melting snow and rushing water – no ice.
So, why feature a European species in consecutive posts, a species considered by many to be an invasive nuisance? I guess because I have the means, opportunity and motive. Even though they number in the millions (all originating from 100 birds released in New York City in the 1890s), this is the first time that I’ve seen starlings at the feeders for any length of time. And, to quote Cornell’s All About Birds fact sheet, “…they’re still dazzling birds when you get a good look”!
The aesthetic appeal of a starling lies in the striking contrast created by white-tipped, black feathers – the winter plumage.
Most of the white spots will be gone by the summer breeding season, a phenomenon referred to as “wear molting”. The spotted feathers aren’t replaced, the white tips simply wear off.
Starlings can be aggressive and sometimes compete with native birds for cavity nest sites. In this instance, they met their match: a Red-bellied Woodpecker fended off three starlings (one above, out of the frame) for feeding rights to a block of suet.
A bright, sunny Valentine’s Day arrived after our latest snowstorm. More snow was on the way, so I had a brief window of opportunity to capture the beauty of a snow-covered landscape in sunshine and shadow.
My search ended with this scene, a small stream meandering through a swampy wetland. Unfortunately, the image is incomplete: I couldn’t capture the surreal peace and calm associated with this beautiful place.
Deer in this area have yet to be physically stressed by deep snow. However, more snow is on the way and the availability of palatable food resources will soon reach an annual low. In response, deer can be seen searching for food around the clock, especially in habitats where concentrated food sources like standing corn are absent.
Deer searching for waste grain in a snow-covered field
Deer tend to throw caution to the wind and frequent bird feeders when natural foods are scarce. This one, young and curious, investigated our backyard bird feeders this afternoon. Two or three others, less tolerant of human activity, will visit in darkness.