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Outdoors

  • Winter solstice heralds the coming of spring

    Looking out the window, I still see snow on the ground, and we will have snow for at least three more months. However, this past Monday, Dec. 20, was the changing point, and yesterday was the beginning of the change, the winter solstice, or the first day of winter.

    That’s the day my husband, Bill, used to call the best day of the year because it meant that from that day forward every day became a bit longer, and this meant spring was on its way. The best time of the year.

  • Flickers a nice addition to feeders in winter

    During the bitter cold spell we had in early December, my friend Amy, who helps me with things I can no longer do myself, looked out the window and said excitedly, “What’s that big bird on the feeder?”

    From the way she said “big” and her excitement, I thought it must be a hawk or an eagle, something really big. So I grabbed my binoculars and found myself looking at a northern flicker. Of course they are big, 12 to 15 inches long, compared with the chickadees and juncos that were also there. Flickers are truly beautiful.

  • Eagle sightings not so rare in Genesee

    A few weeks ago I received a phone call from a lady who lived in the Genesee area who said she had just gone outside for a short break, and looking up at the beautiful blue sky, she saw a majestic bald eagle flying over.

    I was so pleased that she had called to share her excitement with me for it is so much more interesting if you have someone to share your sightings with, and I, too, have seen bald eagles flying over near Genesee.

  • Where have all the grosbeaks gone?

    Probably the question I am most frequently asked by people who have been feeding birds in the area for many years is, “Where have all the grosbeaks gone?” I wish I could give them a good answer, and I also wish I could bring them back.

    First, I try to ascertain that they are referring to the evening grosbeaks because we have other grosbeaks in the area. Usually they describe them as the fairly big birds that are yellow, white and black, and used to come to feeders in droves.

  • The tale of the turkey is a wild tale

    Gobble, gobble, gobble — it is once more Turkey Day. This huge bird was common over much of the Eastern states and came west along the shrubby area of the Plains watercourses. The adult males make the gobbling sound. The females call in a single yelp, and they both make a soft (“quit, quit”) call when feeding.

  • Where have all the evening grosbeaks gone?

    Probably the question I am most frequently asked by people who have been feeding birds in the area for many years is, “Where have all the grosbeaks gone?” I wish I could give them a good answer, and I also wish I could bring them back.

    First, I try to ascertain that they are referring to the evening grosbeaks because we have other grosbeaks in the area. Usually they describe them as the fairly big birds that are yellow, white and black, and used to come to feeders in droves.

  • Keep your eyes, ears open for Christmas bird count

    The printed edition of the Christmas Bird Count for 2008, the 109th CBC, just came in lat week’s mail.

    As usual it is full of fascinating facts and bits of information. There are 59,813 participants and 661 species, plus 38 forms and 28 introduced exotics seen on the counts. Two of these were new, never seen on CBC before. They were the Jack snipe at Eugene, Ore., and the little bunting at Greater Massett, British Columbia.

  • October's fickle weather

    The circular table on the patio looks like a humongous marshmallow or a giant birthday cake. The weathermen are predicting more snow tonight. I can’t believe we have this much snow in October. It looks more like the storm and quantity of snow that we usually get in spring storms. Kind neighbors have kept my driveway plowed. Three times today!

  • Wet summer, cold snaps stole tree colors

    The last three weeks have been strange for October. It has been cold. We have had snowstorms about once a week that have kept it cold. Even when the storms have moved on and we have had blue skies and sunshine, the snow on the ground and he wind off the mountains have kept it cold — not at all the warm dry October weather that I consider normal.

  • Witches and bats and bears -- oh no!

    I am sorry to say that I made an error in my article of two weeks ago. In the article of Oct. 7, I wrote that grizzly bears “had been all but eliminated in the contiguous 48 states.” This is not true, and I apologize. I checked this information in the book “Bears of the World” by Lance Craighead, and assumed it to be up to date, for he is an authority on bears and it is a fairly recent publication. However, I had two phone calls this week telling me that the brown or grizzly bears are indeed still found in the lower 48 states.