We hit all kinds of weather and temperature changes going to Utica two times this week. Starting out in the dark on Friday, [Feb. 9] the temperature was near freezing with a misty rain that tried to freeze on the windshield, but as we went further south the skies nearly cleared and we even saw a sunrise in Utica. The clouds moved in during the day, but only a few short showers passed through and it was mostly clear on the way home.
Posts Tagged ‘blue jays’
Winter held on for another week, giving snowmobilers and skiers some snow to play on…but be careful of ice conditions with all the freezing and thawing we’ve had this winter. Punxsutawney Phil and Ellie George’s Paradox Pete didn’t see their shadows, so we can look for Spring most any time. Since we’ve had six Spring Breaks so far this winter, that won’t be anything new.
Last Sunday [Jan. 14], the temperatures started off at a low of 17 [degrees] and went down daily every morning to a low of -8 [degrees] here this Sunday [Jan. 21.] [We had] some new snow nearly every morning (the most being five inches on Thursday.) This gave the skiers and snowmobilers something to play on (if they could stand the cold temperatures and wind.) There were a few accidents on the trails and highways. The most dramatic was a small car that passed a chip truck tractor trailer over near Blue Mountain. Before getting back in [the] lane, it was hit by the state plow truck. The car was cut in half as it hit the plow of the plow truck broadside. I heard the driver of the car only got a black eye from the accident…lucky guy. This was all caught on camera from the DOT plow truck.
Winter is still late to arrive…and stay white outside. This morning [Jan. 1,] it is white, but just enough to cover the leaves. Out in Webster on Saturday morning [Dec. 30,] they were getting lake effect [snow,] but it was not sticking to the unfrozen ground. It brought several birds to the feeder my son had out behind his pool which was good entertainment before going to the wedding in the afternoon. My grandson, Nathan, and I [captured] several bird photos, trying to catch a good one of the leucistic male Northern Cardinal [at] Jason’s feeder.
So far, the storm coming up the east coast hasn’t done much in this area other than rain. They are predicting that it is going to change to snow overnight, but who could tell with this up and down weather we have been having. Some people to the south of us in Tennessee got hammered with tornadoes just outside of Nashville with six people killed, hundreds of homes damaged or destroyed, and thousands without power. The warm weather to the east clashed with the cold air coming from the west, causing these tornadoes. It was a thin line looking on the weather map, but if you were in it, that’s where the tornadoes happened.
The tamaracks [have] lost their needles. One day Karen said, “What is that all over the surface of the pond?” It was the needles off the four tamaracks that grow around the pond. [This happened] after the windy Thursday night [Nov. 2]. I had my Saw Whet Owl nets up after patching another hole. [I] took them down after a couple checks, because all I was catching were falling beech leaves…which do not pick out a net in the dark. I caught one owl the night before, so I knew there were still some traveling through the area.
The Crown Point Banding Station closed its doors on Saturday, May 20, with a good crew taking down tents, canopies, [a] weather station, and nets in short order by 11 a.m. The rain that was predicted went around us and the strong winds also didn’t come while we were picking up. Tom Barber had the nets up (and a few birds already bagged) when I got up at 5:30 a.m. He had picked six June bugs from the nets while putting them up and I found just one in the nets I put up. As I came out of the tent he said, “The Gray Catbirds are biting this morning and that was the first bird, I picked out of the main net lane.” He said, “I got a new bird for the year, a Brown-Headed Cowbird out of the North net.”
The birds were battling for the seeds this morning [November 21] as the snow fell so intensely. There were over fifty Evening Grosbeaks fighting for space on the platform, and in the mix were two Red Wing Blackbirds who missed the flight south. They have been here for about a week now and they can hold their own with the Grosbeaks. The five or six Blue Jays are a little weary of all the Grosbeaks, and they wait their turn to get a mouth full of seeds. They must have a big stockpile of seeds somewhere, as they have been hauling them away all fall. There might be a forest full of sunflowers come spring, if any of them start to grow. They probably wouldn’t last very long, as the deer like those little plants.
It was minus sixteen this morning (Monday, February 14). I was feeding the birds just after sunrise and the trees were popping and snapping as the water that collected in their cracks was expanding very loudly. Last night the deer didn’t come through to clean up the fallen seeds from the feeders, so the blue jays took advantage of the opportunity. They were working on those and carrying them off to a safe place for hiding. Yesterday I banded my 50th blue jay since the first of December. They keep coming in from some place and the others move south. The highest count I can get at any one time at the feeders is sixteen, but I know there are many more than that if they all came together.
I mentioned before how the jays fill their beaks with seeds and fly off with them to store somewhere, just in case I don’t feed them anymore. Their beaks are full of sunflower seeds or corn when I catch them in the potter traps. They are so full, in fact, that you can see it while I have them in hand and they can’t chirp (or bite) while their beaks are full. Most times, I can see the seeds and they let me band them, and measure a wing. They also usually let me check for age by looking for bars on the outside feathers of the wing before they go out the window to freedom. And they are still holding those seeds when they are released by the way. Blue jays are one of the most placid birds in hand while banding them. Very often they just lay still and watch what you are doing with their big black eyes. However, their feet are active and grab on to anything that touches them, like your fingers, a pencil, or the banding pliers…and they have a fairly good grip.
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