Sunday, March 9, 2008

State of the Frog

In one of my earlier posts, I lamented about the fact that the snowdome had been so firmly in place over the central Kentucky area that we had not had a significant snowfall in several years. Well, I can officially report that the snowdome has a crack in it as it just let in about 5-8 inches of snow over the first part of the weekend. Reports have come in that Lexington received about 5 inches and Georgetown about 7. That's pretty accurate, although, some blowing made it hard to measure through the drifts. One of my best measurements has to be Mr. Frog in the rose garden since he sits low and among so many rose branches that snow has a hard time blowing away from his area. As you can see here, only his small face is peeking through the accumulation. Despite this significant crack in the snowdome, it was only a crack since we were predicted to get the storm of the decade with a foot or more. Around the Ohio River from Louisville to Cincinnati and points north, the accumulations were over a foot which is not really uncommon for them. For me, I am enjoying our 7 inches and am glad for the bands of dry air that swept into the area during the storm to lighten our ultimate total!

By Saturday morning, the storm was still in full swing and the birds were fairly sparse as you can see from this early gathering around the bird feeder. We decided to head outside and let the dogs romp around a bit while we filled up the feeder. Our black lab Pookie was really enjoying herself, even though I kept telling her NOT to drop her toy in the snow or
we wouldn't find it for a week. She is the baby at about 7 years so she really enjoyed the snow. Brewster on the other hand at 13 ran around for a few minutes then decided to crouch and give me the most pitiful looks imaginable. I got the feeling that he blamed me personally for the cold white stuff clinging to his nether regions!

I couldn't even catch Little Girl since she came out, leaked to make some yellow snow and then slinked right back in. She is Brewster's sister so the age thing also prevented her from enjoying the fluffy white.

Once the feeder was filled we decided to add a few more trays of open feed since we figure the birds in the area would be looking for any food source around. We started with just a planter bottom full of black oiler sunflower seed strategically placed next to a very small sapling that had been a favorite perch of local cardinals. After adding a few more open plastic trays of regular mix, we backed away and perched in a strategic locale to await the new arrivals.

The first takers were four poppy cardinals followed by one or two females. They didn't exactly gravitate towards the oiler seeds as we expected but rather sampled all of the trays.
Here is a nice couple trying out the oiler while the others feasted around the main feeder. Here is another one perched in the northwest quadrant of the rose garden, watching the feasters. While they consumed and ruled the area, it wouldn't be long before the Starlings invaded the bird buffet.

After the hoard of "welfare birds" had their fill, we were left with the same cardinals that had started the action along with a new black-eyed Junco seen here who was so skittish or polite that he spent most of the time circling the main offerings to clean up the remnants left in the snow. As you can see from this angle, the terracotta saucer is no longer hovering on the snow in a picturesque manner, but now slants awkwardly on top of the trampled pack.

Since we haven't noticed any Juncos since our days in Cincinnati, w
e looked this lone hunter up in a book readily available: Birds of the Smokies by Alsop. I know we are 2.5 hours from the Tennessee border, but this bird is so widespread across the country that he is represented in this source. What I found to be interesting is the local vernacular regarding this little bird: "Juncos are called 'snow birds' by locals because their appearance in the low elevations in the fall is a signal that winter is coming. Their scientific name hyemalis is New Latin for 'wintry'." Well, it was nice to see this little bird, but if he is the snow bird, I've had enough for the year, he should feel free to retire back to the higher elevations and let our Spring come forth!


thepowerguides said...

we get quite a few juncos at the feeder for a few months each year , because of the everlasting winter this year they are still here would also be happy to see him retire to more northern places oohhhh wweeelll thats Wisconsin Winter for you

PS I love Georgetown Kentucky if I was to move I think that is where we would look at


Kathryn/ said...

Oh, lucky you to have cardinals! I think I've only seen one since returning to California. But I had a family living in the hedge along side my driveway in NC and I LOVED them! Good for you for helping them through cold times!

vonlafin said...

I am ready to give up the snow and ice, for the rain that will clean everything up. I love the cardinals too, but I have really enjoyed the downey woodpeckers this year.