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Just Outside My Door 01/12/12

January 18, 2012
I bring New Years greetings to you all though we are already almost two weeks into it. I hope your Christmas gatherings were as enjoyable as ours and you got off to a good start in this year 2012. We had a green Christmas, but it changed and as of Jan. 5 we had about 8 inches of snow on the ground. However, the sun shone brightly on Jan. 7 and 8, and on Jan. 7 the temperature rose to the mid 40’s. I really appreciated the sunshine, especially in winter. It always makes for a special day. Speaking of certain days, we had a stressful one the evening of Jan. 3 when Bill, out of the blue, had a heart attack. The Sherman EMP’s arrived very quickly, and we were soon on our way to UMP Hammot Hospital in Erie. After several hours, we were told it was a heart attack and he had had another two years previously, but he didn’t know it. I spent the most of that week going to the hospital daily and he came home last Friday. Thankfully, he is feeling good, and we thank God for His goodness and thank the ambulance crew for their immediate response. I think one never quite appreciates how much our local fire department, with their EMP’s, means until they have need of them. Certainly the Sherman department is one of the fastest and best, and they do not charge for the many hours they serve the local area and sometimes even other areas. We thank them all very much. Bill has to return to the hospital to have another stint put in, but he’s doing well. I only tell you all about it because we have some friends and relatives that might not have heard about it. Since being home again, we have greatly enjoyed watching our backyard birds as they flit to and fro from the feeders. One day I counted 24 Goldfinch and didn’t get them all. There are also many Juncos, most of them on the ground or porch beneath the feeders. They make a lovely contrast against the snow. The Titmice, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mourning Doves, Nuthatches, Chickadees, a variety of Woodpeckers and probably a few others, make up our avian family. Sometimes I even see a Hawk in a tree just beyond the fence. When I do, I open the door and holler “you are not welcome here.” I don’t want him dining on one of the feeder birds, but I suppose it has to eat too. The cardinals are the earliest morning visitors and usually the latest ones in the day. I don’t think that birds have just three meals a day like humans do, though there are certain times a day, such as noon, that we see fewer of them. One bird that I don’t think has ever visited our feeders is the Redpoll. According to an article in the Bird Watcher’s Digest, written by Nancy Castillo, who is the co-owner of the Wild Birds Unlimited shop in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., the Redpolls come to us from the low-arctic tundra or Canada. Castillo said that “…as winter nears there aren’t many new arrivals to counter the departures” of those that have migrated. Nevertheless “there is hope, however, in the form of the winter finch forecast.” It was written by Ron Pittaway and published on line. Pittaway’s article stated, “The winter finch forecast is like a bird future report, predicting whether the common redpoll and other winter finches will be seen in my (Castilo’s) yard this winter.” It seems that it depends on the winter’s available food. Bird behavior is based on the available food supply. If the supply is poor, an irruption might happen causing the finches to migrate to other places where food is available. It seems that it’s difficult to know how far flocks might travel and even how many may leave. The irruptions don’t happen every year. I’m not sure how far from the far north, where they live, they would travel, but just maybe this would be a year when I see one or a flock of them. Of course perhaps one has come and I haven’t identified it. I usually see the Purple and House Finches, but they haven’t yet arrived. I haven’t seen the turkey’s yet either, but I don’t start putting corn out back until the snow gets deeper making it harder for them to find food in the woods. We do love counting them as the number increases and they provide winter entertainment. I’ve read there other more hidden birds living in the woods that sometimes make their way into backyards in winter. They include: Ptarmigans which are related to the grouse family; the Rugged Grouse; Wood Duck; Mallard Duck; Woodcock; and Bobwhite. I’m not sure if we have all of them in our area because some of them need bodies of water. We have the creek bed, though sometimes it freezes over. I have only seen the Grouse, and that was before the snow came. Nevertheless, we have plenty of birds visiting every day and perhaps one day one of those bigger birds will join our back yard friends.


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