Great Blue Heron Anomaly

Wind chill temperatures have been below zero. The weather forecast predicts a week of daytime temperatures below 20 degrees (F) and bitterly cold nights. It’s Winter, surface waters are freezing and Great Blue Herons are supposed to have left most of New York State for warmer, more hospitable places.

I discovered this bird this morning, perched in the sun on the edge of a small, spring-fed pool. I quickly photographed it from my truck and left. It had to be stressed by the loss of foraging habitat to ice and I didn’t want to compound the problem. Would love to know the rest of the story.

Note: the light brown fluff in the upper part of the heron image is an out-of-focus plant, not abnormal plumage.

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Photo by NB Hunter (12/26/2017). © All Rights Reserved.

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A Deer in Early Winter

The hunters are gone but a new challenge awaits: Winter. Three months of cold, snow and dwindling food supplies. Waste grain is not yet buried in snow and a young doe seizes the opportunity to feed ahead of an approaching storm. Every bite counts now, even if it means abandoning the cover of darkness.

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Photos by NB Hunter (12/23/2017). © All Rights Reserved.

Nuthatches!

Moving up, down, sideways and rarely lingering, nuthatches are feeder favorites. Our largest nuthatch, the White-breasted, is a daily visitor, foraging on suet as well as grain. Oftentimes one will dart in and grab a sunflower seed, then fly to a nearby oak tree. There, it can lodge the seed in a bark fissure and “hatch the nut” with sharp blows to the shell from its powerful bill.

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The tiny Red-breasted Nuthatch is special. With a more northern distribution and preference for coniferous forests, it is less common at the feeders than the White-breasted. Several years ago there was one, and it disappeared mid winter; last year there were none. We might have a pair this year and I’m taking every opportunity to document their presence. Love this tiny, colorful bundle of energy!

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Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.