February 1: The sun came out for a bit today, and it sure felt good to feel warm rays, if even for a short while. While on the phone I stood at the window and watched one of the younger deer bucking around and chasing another- it obviously felt like playing today. That makes me think they must be in pretty good condition to have enough energy to romp around. It must have felt equally as good to the local birds as they were quite active and vocal around the property. I watched a black-capped chickadee take a 'snow bath', for lack of a better term. It dove into the snow, then perched on a branch and preened for a good ten minutes, pulling every feather it could reach through its small beak. What fun.
Then at 10:30 pm, I heard a Great Horned Owl calling near the garage- then another answered from the west side of the house- and then yet another joined in from down by the lake. I went out and stood on the front porch, under a cloudy full-moon sky and listened to a very busy owl conversation going on. At one point one of them squealed, and it sounded quite like a bottle rocket- rising in tenor and very high pitched. Now I know why we haven't been hearing our local Barred Owls lately.
February 3: On the way back from West Branch today, we sighted two adult Bald Eagles not far from Selkirk. They're definitely making their way back into the county.
February 4: Good numbers of Common Redpolls at the feeders again today- and we had a quick visit from a immature female Pileated Woodpecker, she was a real beauty. While standing out back watching the deer feeding, I glanced up in a blue spruce and watched a chickadee eating snow. The birdpond is open, but we often see birds grab a quick bite of snow, especially chickadees.
February 6: while sitting here at the computer downloading email this morning I heard a thunk against the house. I have a small suction cup feeder on each of the windows, where goldies, dees and titmice feed off and on all day- thinking a goldie must have hit the window harder than usual, I got up and looked down into the flowerbox that is filled with greenery and there sat an immature Northern Shrike with it's wings spread out over a titmouse. Without going into many details I learned today that a shrike begins to pluck the bird before the bird has died.
On a happier note, the common redpoll numbers have increased again- at least 2 dozen commons, but we haven't seen the hoary in a few days now.
February 7: Did a bit of trail riding today, but most trails are still socked in with deep snow. Not many county roads have been plowed, so we didn't go too far off the main roads. Natasha has always enjoyed romping in the snow, and she got her fill of it today.
February 8: The temperatures dropped low enough last night for the trusses to pop. Loud bangs kept us all up most of the evening, but what a magical evening it was with the moon illuminating the woods with an etheral glow.
February 9: Howling winds caused white-out conditions today on the way to West Branch. Despite the swirling snow, we sighted a huge flock of over 100 Snow Buntings- they make flying seem so effortless, even in a windstorm. After the sun dipped down, a small opposum came into the backyard to look for food. I imagine they're having a hard time navigating around the woods in the deep snow.
February 12: On the way to Rose City, we watched an adult Bald Eagle near our home, circling around a field in large loops. Then when we checked the area near the nest closer to town, two adult Bald Eagles were perched in the same dead snag that we viewed them in last week.
February 13: We made a strange discovery by the bird pond today- a pile of droppings that didn't resemble anything we're used to seeing, that included a barely digested mouse. I'm thinking maybe fox scat, but I still haven't figgured that one out. Also the wounded deer with the broken leg reappeared in the clearing this afternoon. This is the first time I've seen her since she first showed up. I was surprised that she is getting around in this deep snow so well.
February 15: The birdsongs are increasing around the property daily and I'm hearing the spring songs of the chickadees now. We enjoyed a few R.N. Pheasant, Wild Turkey and a huge flock of Snow Buntings this afternoon on the way back from the feed store.
February 20: While out refilling feeders today, Garry heard a robin. I kept a close eye out, but no robin materialized. There were at least 4 dozen Common Redpolls at the feeders today, and the wounded deer is now feeding among the herd, standing her ground. Long after dark, a flying squirrel came down to one of the feeders.
February 22: A beautiful sunny day. I counted 11 White-breasted Nuthatches this afternoon on the property- there's a whole lotta honkin goin on.
February 23: Several inches of new snow arrived today, and a sharp-shinned hawk kept the feeder birds on their toes. Three very vocal American Crows have been coming in each morning to feed. While the deer fed today, the crows showed up and one of the youngsters didn't care to share her food. She fluffed up her tail and stomped towards the crows until they left.
February 24: heading into West Branch this afternoon, we sighted an adult Golden Eagle feeding on a fresh killed deer in a snow-covered field on the north side of State Rd, east of the old cemetary in Selkirk.
We scanned the field again on the way home and it had left the area.
February 25: We passed many many Horned Larks on the roadsides on the way to Prescott today. Several came close to hitting the jeep and we had to slow down to avoid colliding with them. Someone did just that with a beautiful Barred Owl we found on Stahlbush road where we also sighted many Wild Turkeys, playing follow the leader in the snow.
February 27: An absolutely gorgeous day- blue skies and temperatures hovering around the 40 degree mark. A ruffed grouse burst into flight at the corner of our road & another slowly worked it's way through the brush & also eventually flew over into the pines. We saw more grouse down by the river access and checked on the Bald Eagle nest, but none were around today. The squirrels sure are enjoying the warmup- I counted 25 of them in the yard today and lately they've been waking me up when they scamper across the roof in the morning. They're quite thin in size, but they're making up for lost time in a hurry.
February 29: We did a bit of trail riding on very muddy roads into Clare Co. today. Sighted our first 2 American Robins of the year not far from Jays Sporting Goods. A couple red-tailed hawks near Gladwin, a few ring-necked pheasants, many crows and dozens of Horned Larks. They were numerous througout Ogemaw, Roscommon, Gladwin & Clare Counties.
On the way back, we passed the field/roadkill where we sighted the Golden Eagle last week- in it's place was an adult Bald Eagle. The field had at least 100 deer milling around, and one seemed interested in what the eagle was up to, slowly nosing it's way up to the carcass.. it bounded away as soon as we stopped the jeep for a couple quick photos.
Additional 2004 Journals: