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Snowscape: Life goes on for wildlife

By Staff | Feb 1, 2016

The long siege of blowing snow has finally stopped. The fortunate ones among the snow-shocked population have a panoramic view of the Great White Outside through a picture window. They can curl up with a cup of hot chocolate and possibly a crossword puzzle and gaze out at what Mother Nature and El Nino have wrought.

An orderly winter with many springlike days and only rain from the sky has roared from its dormancy and shown its hackles and briefly-covered dominance over mankind. Once again, we can only stand gape-mouthed at what nature wants to do.

But with a second cup of hot chocolate and a apple pastry as our company, we can survey what has just happened when we returned from chasing down the last containers of milk, loaves of bread, bottled water, toilet tissue and cartons of eggs from the closest, beleaguered super market.

The sentry line of half-century old conifers have wrapped themselves in layers of white that even the nasty wind can’t dislodge. It’s a shame Norman Rockwell or Grandma Moses can’t station themselves before the trees’ majesty and paint away the fading afternoon.

Perfect triangles swaying against the sturdy wind.

Occasionally, a smallish bright red figure flits between the branches, trying to maintain its balance against the interminable blasts of wind. It’s a male cardinal . . . and he’s sharing his precarious bit of safety with other birds of winter — juncos, chickadees, finches and one mourning dove.

Two bird feeders are within an easy glance of the window.

The feeders are filled to capacity in anticipation of the heavy snowfall.

Many of the birds don’t really like taking their only-found nourishment from the feeders, much preferring the ground where they gather to peck away at what seeds have been placed there.

But the feet of snow have covered the ground. And even the English sparrows and cardinals must use the feeders to take the seeds that will help keep them warm.

Small cakes of suet charm the flicker, downy woodpecker and nuthatches that dart back and forth between the cover of the trees and the flush-with-nourishment feeder.

Mother Nature has slowed our activity to less than a crawl, but she has provided her wildlife with steely survival skills.

What else is just outside the window?

Sculptured snow drifts that weren’t carved by Frank Lloyd Wright or Buckminster Fuller.

The shadowy outlines of leave-less trees like the locust, maple and sycamore — all bending against the force of the wind.

What creature or critter could have made those small tracks in the ever-building snow? Was it a rabbit or squirrel? We didn’t see it, but they held close to the cover provided by the spindly branches of the barren forsythia and spiraea bushes.

No matter what the animals do, the snow and wind own the day.

But watching the animals and their survival skills — while fortified with hot chocolate and another pastry — is an inside winter wonderland for us.