by Jennifer Howard
“Opening ones eyes, ears and being very still and quiet can lead to amazing experiences. Memories to cherish.”
I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends getting together. Sharing special moments and memories. Winter has arrived over and over. Climate change is very real. And it affects every living thing. We have had cold days with wind chills, and mild days at 24C temps. Windows opened and closed so many times. This weather is hard on our wildlife. Hard on us. During the first storm, I noticed a robin, a red-wing blackbird, a northern flicker, and a song sparrow. A few robins seem to overwinter more and more in certain areas, but the others go south. And these birds were clearly not happy. This weather is confusing and some get caught. Thankfully they all appear to have moved on. I had a grackle on and off as well. Although late leaving I’m hopeful they moved on successfully. 80% of first-year babies in all species never make it to their first year; loss of habitat, weather, roads, and predators both wild and domestic are no match for them.
Christmas brought us a huge weather system crippling some areas for days. I even had a screech owl take shelter in our squirrel box on Christmas Eve day. We had frigid temperatures and very high winds. I was thankful I was able to provide some needed shelter. Not a lot of wildlife was out and about around me. It was bitter out there.
Deep snow makes it difficult for some wild animals to find food, while others rely on their keen hearing, for example, owls. If you see an owl perched on a post, please park your car at a respectable distance and stay inside so the owl is not distracted or chased away from its hunting territory and its next meal. Owls must eat frequently and every meal is critical to their survival. When there is snow they depend on their incredible hearing. Watch them and you will see how they hunt. How their “radar” if you will, catches the sound and movement of prey under the snow. They home in and go in to hopefully catch a much-needed meal. Flying talons at the ready, they go into the deep snow. But they don’t always succeed. It’s tough, so please do not interfere. Some owls are diurnal hunting day and night and others are nocturnal hunting only at night. Never use a flash if photographing an owl as some are nocturnal and this is harsh on their big eyes. In fact, I never use a flash with any wildlife. I know I hate flashes myself, and I know what it is, but using flash when photographing wildlife just should not be done. No photo is worth stressing out an animal. Absolutely not cool.