[TN-Bird] A Great Blast from the Past...

  • From: "Mark Greene" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "greenesnake@xxxxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: TN-Birds Bird <tn-bird@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 18:41:36 +0000 (UTC)

Given the weather we've had this past week or so, I thought this post from the 
Ol' Coot, Jeff Wilson that I ran across this morning was appropriate:

Snow in the Mid-SouthA southerners perspective.
Jan. 29-30, 2000Shelby Co., Tennessee andTunica County, Mississippi

Snow changes the habits of many birds; that we can all see now at the feeders. 
It also opens the opportunity for us to see what changes they have made in 
their natural habitats. You can detect movement of the birds far more easily in 
the woods with a white blanket that offers little in the way of camouflage for 
those little bitty brown jobs. I saw more Hermit Thrush in 5 hours on Saturday 
than I had seen in the last 4 months. Most were found as they flew up from the 
roadside where they were coming for water. Winter Wrens could not change brush 
piles without looking like little mice scurrying across the stark white open 
spaces. If there had been no snow I would have seen maybe one Saturday on 
President's Island, not seven. An Orange-crowned Warbler is always a kick in 
the pants bird, but this one posed for a photo, cool. Krider's, dark morph and 
eastern Red-tailed Hawks were major participants in the wait and see game as 
they and Kestrels stared down from almost every perch with a view. A single 
adult Cooper's Hawk was using the same willow tree in Ensley both days; it 
didn't look too different from any of the other vantage points. If we could see 
with their eyes, what realization would we have? You have no choice but to stop 
and wonder at the beauty of a male Eastern Towhee when splendidly displayed in 
alace like tracing of dark twigs against a backdrop of pure white snow.
When a blanket of snow is on the ground there is a shift in all our senses; 
seeing, hearing even feeling changes. A cold nose thrust out from a warm 
covering detects only hints of odors so faint that you raise you head slightly 
and cast it to the side trying to catch one more whiff, but it is gone as 
quickly as it came. A warm nose is much desired when it comes to retrieving 
faint olfactory memories. In the woods, vision is enriched by the tremendous 
depth of field that you perceive, but in the middle of a huge cotton or bean 
field covered in snow there is no depth at all, there is no perception of 
distance, everything seems to be right at your cold finger tips. There is also 
something about the purity of the sounds that you hear in the snow blanketed 
woods, early in the morning before the wind stirs. The lack of reverberation 
caused by the muffling snow cover is such, that any familiar sound that 
survives to stimulate your inner ear is altered, it is like you are hearing it 
for the first time. If you close your eyes and brush your cheek across the bark 
of a tree or pick up a stone in an ungloved hand it is all new, all different. 
I stop and wonder if the birds have time to think about these differences or 
are the demands put upon them in these cold times too much to stop and much 
ponder about anything. Stoking the furnaces for heat with either seed or 
firewood is much the same, if you are cloaked in feathers or spun wool, when 
snow claims the landscape.
There is always one surprise bird awarded for time spent in the field and that 
was a molted male INDIGO BUNTING, slumming with some House Sparrows and 
Brown-headed Cowbirds. They were all feeding at a spot where a bean combine had 
cleaned its header. He was scuffling with the rowdy bunch and holding his own, 
posturing with his head down and beak open but the blue feathering around his 
lower belly and vent made him look like a down on his luck dandy with his back 
to the wall.
I love birding in the snow, but then I have no choice. :-)
Good Birding!!!
Jeff R. WilsonOL' COOTBartlett, Tenn.TLBA
Wow, what a great essay on the wonders of nature seen in the snow covered 
landscape as told by the master wordsmith Jeff Wilson. Jeff, I miss you 
everyday, Buddy! Thanks for leaving us with these great words to ponder!
Good birding!
Mark GreeneTrenton, TN

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