A week-by-week look at what is happening in nature.
A special thanks to Virginia Barlow’s Ginny’s Calendar in Northern Woodlands Magazine.
If you find a half eaten mouse or small bird impaled on a hawthorn, you’ve found the work of a northern shrike / The early morning songs of cardinals become more frequent and intense as the cardinal breeding season approaches / Meadow voles breed almost all year ‘round. Fortunately, they are eaten year-round, too, and are the major food now of hawks and owls / Single male pileated woodpeckers drum frequently. Their loud drumming diminishes at the end
Early robins are getting worms, where the ground has thawed / Raccoons go wandering on the warmer nights and may not end up in the den they started from / Buttonbush seed heads often stay intact through the winter. Spring floods will carry the floating seeds to new shores / Chickadees begin the songs that help establish their breeding territories. Spring is in the air / Common goldeneyes and common mergansers can be seen on ice-free sections of large rivers
The familiar bird’s-nest-shaped seed heads of Queen Anne’s lace contain emergency food for birds / Blue jays may be cleaning out your feeder, but they are sharp lookouts and will sound the alarm if any danger is sighted / After a few days, crusted snow will be littered with an interesting collection of seeds, often from birches, basswood, and hemlock / The tapering shape of balsam firs allows them to shed snow when the load gets too heavy
Redpolls often travel in large flocks, sometimes of over 100 birds / Both woodland jumping mice and meadow jumping mice hibernate below the frost line, curled in tight balls / Courtship activity of great horned owls gets underway / Chickadee flocks have a hierarchical structure and are stable, unlike the loose-knit flocks of most other small birds / The pyramidal old flower stalks of meadowsweet last through the winter, shedding small seeds over many months