Backyard Birdfeeder Banter
By Jed Buelow
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor, Sports and Nature Editor
Those who have continued feeding birds during the shutdown have been rewarded in recent days as the flocks have returned as part of their migration north.
The first arrival of juncos started just days before winter made a return dumping around 10 inches of snow and dropping overnight temps to below zero in the Tomahawk area. The return of Old Man Winter made making sure the new arrivals had something to eat even that more important, as even the turkeys and other critters returned to grab a meal as everything else was covered in a heavy layer of white stuff for much of last week.
The backyard birdfeeders also drew the attention of some other visitors. A Cooper’s hawk was spotted perched atop the light pole one morning. These smaller-sized hawks are well-known for feeding on songbirds at feeders. Fortunately the time spent in our backyard didn’t produce a meal as all the other birds stayed hidden in the nearby pines until the raptor departed.
Another predator found hunting around our feeders was a pair of weasels that were easily spotted in the snow as they were in the process of transitioning from their winter white to their summer brown coats. Also known as ermine, one of the weasels was able to track down a mouse that it hauled off into the woods to eat. The other managed to “weasel” its way into out our rabbit hutch and had to be shooed away out of fear it might turn our Easter into a bloody Sunday. While it was more than likely just looking for a mouse meal of its own, it never is a bad idea to score some additional points with the Easter Bunny. I suspect my basket will run overfloweth come April 4, 2021.
Along with the juncos, finches, chickadees and many nuthatches, several Northern Flickers have been spotted coming into the feeders to awkwardly grab a meal. The robins have been hanging around the crab apple trees picking off the last remaining fruit. Waterfowl that had been busy staking out prime breeding territory in some cases had to retreat to open water and rivers as ice formed on smaller lakes and bays.
Despite the week-long setback, the good news is that spring is here and thermometer is once again heading in the right direction. Soon the sound of ruffed grouse drumming in the woods and the spring peepers that went back to sleep as the landscape turned white will resume. And the calming tremolo of loons will be heard while out enjoying nature reminding us all that shutdowns, whether caused by weather or man-made, do not last forever. A reminder of just how special this place is that we are all so fortunate enough to call home.