Snow Shots and Animal Anecdotes

Photo of dead ash with snow

Snow, lining objects with white fluff, acts in photographs as a shape definer and contrast maker. A light snow works well for bringing out shapes and colors in the (near) winter landscape. Above, the dead ash tree with borer trails and some remaining bark.

Photo of shrubs with snow on branches

An evergreen and a deciduous shrub, dark green and crispy white tangle of branches.

Photo of red pear leaves and dead ash trunk

Oak trunk, ash, and the red leaves of the pear. 

Photo of owl pellets in bird feeder

Owls have been taking prey at the ground feeder. As the contents show, a lot of not long digested peanuts make up the bulk of the pellets. (Pellets are parts of their prey that owls regurgitate, usually fur and bone fragments.)

Photo of male deer lying down

This male deer spent several hours in my yard with his doe companion.

Photo of male deer facing lens

Here he is standing face to the camera.

 

Animal Anecdotes

 

Some time back I watched squirrels in my yard flinging from branch to branch, sometimes barely catching hold, and wondered if they ever fall. Then one day I heard a big cracking noise and suddenly a squirrel came plummeting from the oak. When it got to the ground, it managed to spring off its hind legs, catch its claws in the bark, and scurry back up the trunk. I assume the answer is, one, that their bushy tails work as gauges to detect air flow from surfaces, so they know how close to the ground they are; two, that they use the skin flaps between their front legs and bellies (modest compared to flying squirrels’ but still something…cats also, famous for soft landings, have those skin flaps) to create a parachute effect. Three, their bodies are lightweight and flexible.

Next story: I noticed a technique used by the Carolina wrens at my ground feeder. They have relatively thin, curved bills, the sort insect-eaters have, and insects are a large part of their diet. But this one, having peanuts available on a flat surface, banged down with its head and drilled out a core sample. So it was able to enjoy the favorite food even without having a finch’s bill to pick one up.

Last story: on that day the deer were in the yard, a Red-tailed Hawk was hunting, flying from tree to tree. I had my cat Ed out for his walk, which isn’t really a walk, only Ed wearing his harness and sniffing at things while mostly sitting. When he noticed the hawk, he rushed for the door. Then my other cat Chester was snuggled on the bed one night, while I looked at videos. One was of a wolf howling for her friends, and as soon as Chester heard the noise he sat up with round eyes, and after a moment ran off. Interesting that little house cats have instincts about predators they rarely if ever have any contact with.

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