Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Ying and Yang

Well, winter is back with a vengeance. With the temps hovering in the low teens and twenties, an increase in bird activity at the feeders has been seen. (Thanks to the Ohio Asssociation of Garden Clubs for generous donations of bird seed and suet!) All the common "feeder" birds can be seen along with Downy, Hairy, Red-bellied woodpeckers and Common Flickers. Two northern species which have migrated to Ohio for the winter are the Northern Junco and the Pine Siskin. Juncos are often referred to as snowbirds, because of there typical appearance with the first snow or cold spell. Siskins are small finchlike birds that often flock with the American Goldfinch in the winter. They are streaked with brown and have a yellow wing bar. They are particularly drawn to areas with Hemlock trees , a relect from their breeding grounds in Canada. But these birds have anything but breeding on the minds right now. It's all about survival and finding enough food to main boby temperature. But yesterday at dusk, a familar sound did hint at the fact that some birds are already in the midst of the breeding season. The haunting five note call of the Great Horned Owl. At least two owls were carrying on quite the conversation a short distance from the nature center. Female great horns will begin incubation in late January or early February. Young hatch in early spring when prey items are also becoming more active. We have found an active nest with youngs several times over the past few years. A preferred site in on a sheltered rock ledge high up on a sandstone cliff. So there you have it a little ying along with a little yang. Together they make up the circle of life!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Goose Wars Begin

Each year on or about President's Day the Canada Geese make there presence known. The early morning hours echo with the honking of incoming flights of geese. While it is still to early to begin mating in our area, it is not too early to seek out a potential nesting ground. And so the battles begin. Geese honking and hissing, flying low across the water in attack mode with necks fully extended. Beating their breasts with great wings saying, this is my pond and I'm not going to share it with other geese like you! This behavior will continue through February and March. And ultimately a dominant pair will emerge victorious. Canada geese typically mate for life and are usually on the nest by last March-early April at the preserve. The lack of a real winter may see an earlier start this year. We will have to wait and see, atfer all the weather is a flickled beast that can turn at a moments notice.


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter...we don't need no stinkin' winter!

Well, what a real turn a round from last year when we had the winter that would not end. This year it can not seems to stay. The last two days have felt more like late March, early April. In fact, snowdrops are in bloom, today along with periwinkle and the first true native wildflower shunk cabbage, which has been in bloom for a while. Also saw a little green frog hop into one of the small spring fed ponds. No sign of typically early amphibians like wood frogs or spotted salamanders yet as they have not been fooled by this early warm spell. (I just looked out the window and a deer is staring right at me!) I have heard that some men stare at goats, but what happens when you stare at deer????  She has a satisfied look. No doubt because she just laped up all the bird seed from the ground feeder. Also saw a muskrat puttering across the big pond a few moments ago....could not tell if he/she was in love yet. Stay tuned for more of "As the Natural World Turns"