I’m still here! Despite snow, and ice, and more snow, and -22°F, and ice, and more snow, and more snow …
Hmmph. Excuse me while I calm down a bit.
We haven’t had the astonishing totals downstate has had, but the white (or clear) stuff has come down at least twice a week since Christmas. The piles along the driveway are shoulder-high and it’s getting hard to toss the snow that far, so the parkable area is narrowing.
I’m slacking off just a bit on the bird feeding, sticking mainly to the ones closest to the house. I feel like the Fellowship climbing Caradhras as I plow through thigh-deep snow. At least the birds seem grateful. We regularly get mixed finch flocks of 30 or more swarming the thistle feeder. Seven cardinals showed up at one time. A pair each of flickers and Red-bellied woodpeckers have been visiting, along with innumerable Downies and Hairies. Sparrows, juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, all the usual suspects are waiting for me every morning. So why do I say it’s the doldrums?
‘The usual suspects.’ That’s the problem. Even if I go looking, I’m lucky to see 25 species in a whole day. And it’s the same 25 I see all week. And all month. And pretty much until the end of March, at the earliest. To see any variety, I have to travel. For example, the CBC at Jamaica Bay NWR, my old birding ground, had 71 species and over 13000 birds in their count alone, attesting to the power of open water. Which we ain’t got much of around here. I long for a Red-winged Blackbird.
Yet the sight of these tiny balls of energy going about their active lives in the very heart of winter is enough to raise my spirits. I know feeding them makes no difference to the survival of the species, but I like to think we — the individual birds-of-my-yard and I — have a relationship of sorts. That when I step off my porch, arms full and losing a boot in an unexpected mound, the Chickadee who lights chattering just above me is acknowledging my presence, and my presents.
Or more likely, “Jeez, about time you got here.”