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Nature of New England                           


Nature Journal

Notes about birds, mammals, wildflowers, insects, and more
Sunday, January 19, 2003
There was a full moon last night and the sky was clear. Felt like I could see almost as well as in daylight. And the shadows of the trees were so beautiful against the snow.

Sometimes I go out for a walk on these moonlit nights. Everything looks so different - so special.

It's been clear on and off again tonight. But, with the temperature almost down to zero, I don't think I'll be going outside.
Saturday, January 18, 2003
Young Birch TreesHere's a stand of paper birch trees I see on one of my regular walks. These trees are young ones - not sure exactly how old they are.

The paper birch tree has shallow roots, with most roots being in the first 2 feet of soil. It has no tap root.

As mentioned earlier this month, the seeds of this tree are eaten by certain songbirds,
including the common redpoll and the
pine siskin.

Also, in the winter, the ruffed grouse will feed on the
buds and catkins.
Friday, January 17, 2003

Not having seen any wild turkeys - or their tracks - for a long time, I got to wondering what they do when it's very cold and the snow gets deep.

I learned that, in weather like this, turkeys tend to stay on south-facing slopes and in areas where there are springs - or other water sources. They can roost for a week or longer without feeding. Living off their existing fat, they limit movement to conserve energy.

If the snow cover is a foot or less and without a heavy crust, the wild turkey can scratch through it to find acorns and other food. When the snow gets very deep, they may seek out areas where the deer have already pawed through the snow.

They also look for leftover grain in farm fields. If that is not available, then there is a real risk that they may not survive through a long period of severe weather.

Thursday, January 16, 2003
Blue Sky and CloudsI've been sky-watching, as usual. We've been having a little more sun and blue sky lately, but it's been very cold - both during the day and at night. Was down to 2 degrees above zero last night.

The birds have been a little more
active at the feeders in the last
couple of days. Sometimes I notice this
when there's a storm coming. But it might just be that
they need the extra energy because it's so cold right now.
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Haven't seen any juncos or sparrows for the past month or so. A neighbor mentioned that she saw a junco - only one - a couple of days ago.

Have still been seeing the deer quite often, though. And their tracks seem to be everywhere.

There were two deer near the house this morning. I think it's the same doe that I was seeing a lot of during the summer - along with her fawn. The fawn is quite large now, but clearly smaller than the doe.

Tuesday, January 14, 2003
Climbing Bittersweet?I believe that this is a climbing bittersweet, a vine that climbs on trees and shrubs. This particular one is on a white pine tree - and too high for me to be positive on the identification.
In the spring, it has small greenish
flowers. In the fall, it matures and the pods
open up to show these scarlet seeds.
Monday, January 13, 2003
Here's an interesting article from Birder's World magazine. It tells about the different types of bird feathers and explains the shape, structure, and purpose of each type.

It also describes the various bristles that are found on some birds - for example, the bristles that flycatchers have around their mouths.
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