It was a rare sunny day, with blue skies and mild temperatures, just below 0c. The red barn is on the western perimeter of the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, and not part of the garden. The open space across which I am looking, is a crop field, usually planted in corn, when the snow vanishes in spring.
Barry filling the Backyard Garden feeder
Barry is one of the volunteers at the Fletcher Wildlife Garden who keeps the bird feeders stocked all winter long. We have this one in the Backyard Garden (BYG), and another on the south side of the ash woods. To get to the latter, volunteers have to haul a supply of seed by sled across the garden, past the pond, by the butterfly meadow and old field, to the woods. The birds are very happy for all this work. While Barry was filling the feeder, a chickadee landed and grabbed a seed, while nearby more chickadees, a white-breasted nuthatch and a downy woodpecker awaited the 'all-clear'!
Chickadee in blue spruce
While Barry filled the feeder I watched the birds coming in. This chickadee was sitting in the blue spruce next to the feeder. This spruce is very well used by birds and squirrels because its thick branches and height provide excellent cover from which they can dart out, grab a seed and retreat to safety.
Chickadee at feeder
Another chickadee no doubt grateful for Barry's attention to the feeder.
Downy woodpecker, female
Another bird waiting for Barry to fill the feeder was this little female downy woodpecker. Before Barry came along, I'd been watching her at the end of the BYG, probing tree trunks for insects.
Meanwhile, over at the ash woods, the feeders were mostly busy with chickadees. This lone mourning dove was sitting in an apple tree by the old field, seemingly soaking up the sun and mild temperatures.
This site is by the red barn and is a sheer, slick, ice-glazed surface. After the freezing rain of a week ago, the entire city looked like this! At least now the trails are walkable.
DSV or dog-strangling vine, aka pale swallowwort (Cynanchum rossicum), is a perfidious invasive. However, I find that the bleached seedpods, especially when backlit, can be very delicately beautiful. Probably not everyone would agree!
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)
The dried seedpods of evening primrose flowers have an almost sculptural look to them. Inside each pod is a cluster of tiny black seeds, which when spilled on the snow look like someone has sprinkled black pepper. Sparrows, finches and chickadees have all been observed eating these seeds.
Curly dock (Rumex crispus)
This non-native plant is more attractive, to my eye, when the seeds appear. Looked at closely, they are quite pretty and detailed.
This is one squirrel in three poses. After burying a sumac seedhead (cone), this little one ran up onto a sumac branch and gave himself a good grooming.
Another view of the same red squirrel in the next couple of photos. I can't help think of Squirrel Nutkin when I see them sitting like this. These clever little animals are pretty well adapted to survive the cold and snow, and are active on all but the very coldest of days. They create snow tunnels all along their regular routes into which they can dive at a hint of danger, emerging some distance away, often at the base of a tree.