Tuesday, February 24, 2009

View from the Window

It's been slow here lately - hence no posts. Stormy weather, cold winds - who wants to go out in that unless he has to? Even the dog shook his had and said no - trying to dodge past me back into the house last night!

But today the sun is shining and I snapped these photos from my office window ("Don't jump!" my co-worker said, as she walked by and saw me crouched on my desk leaning partway out the window.)

This first shot is the overall view (for now you will have to imagine this photo - I've tried for two days to post the pictures, and it's just not working - I'll keep trying and maybe someday they will show up): fox and bird tracks (surprisingly, no squirrels). As I tell the kids when they are here for tracking classes, I can just about always guarantee fox tracks here. The birdfeeders provide a cafeteria for the foxes: all sorts of small mammals are snarfing down the fallen seeds, day and night. Easy pickings for a fox - much easier than hunting through the deep snow in the woods!

But the really neat "tracks" are the wing prints made by the chickadees as they forage for the fallen seed, courtesy of the greedy pine siskins who hog the feeders.

Folks often bring us photos they've taken of bird prints (or animal tracks, or plants, etc.) that they want identified. We usually claim that bird prints are those of raptors, and certainly many an owl has left a gorgeous set of wing, body, and even face prints in the snow while hunting. But I know that the prints in my yard are not from raptors - most likely they are from blue jays or crows. Just like with footprints, size can be an important clue. Before you snap that photo, get a ruler into the shot.

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