Words by Brian Baxter Photos by Don Jones A snowy owl in flight. Spot these ghostlike birds along shorelines and open ﬁelds.
he most challenging things in life are often the most rewarding. So it is with winter birding. Although the most difﬁcult time of year to see birds, the cold winds and presence of snow sharpen our minds and senses and keep us alert. The stalwart winter birder, dressed in comfortable layers, snow camouflage and equipped with a good pair of binoculars and favorite bird book may actually ﬁnd quite a few species. Quiet, concealed walks using timbered edges or riparian stringers for cover, may reveal tracks in snow or mud and possibly even pellets coughed up by many birds of prey. At times, the lack of vegetation gives us a better glance at flight patterns, distinguishing features, colors and behaviors. We listen harder for distinctive calls and woodpecker drumming patterns. And the birds help us by staying closer. Raptors must diversify diet and increase home ranges. Yet many birds of prey won’t migrate if food sources and territorial needs are met locally. Migrations, mating courtships, territorial defenses, feeding habits and vocalizations still go on. Such is life. One never knows what gifts Mother Nature may have in store. And maybe, just maybe, that makes our winter birding adventures the sweetest of wine.
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In this issue: Wings of Winter, Future of snow, NFL Super Bowl Champion Ron Heller, Art of Megan Atwood Cherry, Urban Moose, Thrill of shed...