Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tales of Winter

"Eagle Tracks in the Snow" by Joanne C. Williams

These tracks tell a story of how an eagle landed on the smooth, snow-covered surface of an open area and began to walk, probably toward something to look at for food. The bottom (second) picture shows the confusion of footprints and tail markings as the bird landed, then shifted around and settled itself for a time before beginning its walk. The footprints, though faint, can be seen progressing toward the dark spot at the top of the first picture above.

Stories in the snow: We all enjoy looking for animal tracks in the snow, seeing the tales they may tell of a rabbit hopping along, then finding where it may have stopped awhile to feed. We see where a little mouse had skittered, coming up from its tunnel deep under the snow cover, looking for seeds on winter-dry stems on a grassy hillock; and perhaps we may find an owl's wing impressions on the newly-fallen soft, clean snow as it swooped down silently and quickly, taking the mouse in the dark of night. The tracks of squirrels and other creatures can be seen as they run straight along an open field or even across our own yard. On winter mornings, we may even find the footprints of a cat, as it had silently hunted in the cold stillness. In the country, there may be the larger prints of coyotes, prowling about as they also look for mice, their main food.

Occasionally, we may see something unexpected, and we can know what has happened in the silence of the night or in the frozen, foggy mists of a winter's day. We may see the wing marks of an owl or a hawk, bits of fur or feathers lying nearby, and drops of blood on the snow. We know that some small prey creature has met its end. It is Nature's way.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Voices in the Autumn Air

The silence and the solitude were touched by wild music, thin as air, the faraway gabbling of geese flying at night. Presently I caught sight of them as they streamed across the face of the moon, the high, excited clamor of their voices tingling through the night, and suddenly I saw, in one of those rare moments of insight, what it means to be wild and free.
Martha Reben, "A Sharing of Joy"

I value my garden far more for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them their fruit for their songs.
Joseph Addison

They travel with a constant companion, autumn.
Larry Van Goethem. "Southward Stream of BIrds of Prey." The New York Times

(All from "The Quotable Birder" Bill Adler, Jr., Ed.)
(Photograph: "The First Hint of Autumn" by Dale Doepker

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

At the Programs: Special Moments

Excitement as, up high, Sarah the Turkey Vulture opens her big wings at a Wildlife Recovery Birds of Prey presentation.