Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Snowy Scenery

We had a few inches of snow that started late last night, which was bad since I drove my Z3 to work instead of the Durango. BMWs are the ultimate driving machine unless you're driving in snow and your Beemer happens to be a little roadster! I could only drive 10 mph on the road that leads to our house. Lesson learned--next time check the weather Amy!

This bird house was made by Jim and me this fall. The wood came from a recycled pallet I found at work. It was a nice, heavy oak. The rusty nails were sawed off from behind so no little birds can get hurt by them. I do like the rustic look they lend to the bird house, along with the rusty corrugated metal roof. I found the metal on an old shed that had fallen down in the neighbor's woods. We used it to make three wren houses this winter for Christmas gifts too. It didn't take long for a tenant to show up. A few days after we mounted it last fall we could see grasses and a feather inside! Maybe they're using it as a roost until spring arrives.

The bird house is placed on a landscaped mound we created last year. It was something I'd envisioned in my head since I can remember. It fits nicely into the curve of the driveway and there are three White Birches planted on it. I'll finish it with perennials in my chosen color scheme of purple and creamy yellow.

It was cold and blustery today but I wanted to venture into the north end of the windbreak to snap some photos. I like the way the pines and spruces look like a Bavarian forest at this end. This open end is the result of the tornado that ripped hundreds of trees down in June, 1996. There is still a lot of damage to repair and we are working on it gradually. I acted like a big squirrel last fall and stuffed my pockets full of acorns from various oak species in our area and spaded them into the ground as I walked throughout the north end. I hope to see lots of fresh green oak seedlings pop up in spring! Some of the seeds I planted are Red Oak, Pin Oak, Shagbark Hickory, Honey Locust and Bur Oak.

The windbreak trees are right around 65 years old and most are straight as can be. Some have developed multiple leaders as the result of the tornado that ripped their main leaders off. My goal is to replace these patriarchs over time with a mix of conifers and hardwood deciduous trees to created a mixed forest feeling where we can walk and observe nature.

Amongst the patriarchs new life springs forward. This White Pine seedling grows from a niche in the bark of its parent. When it comes time to remove the mature tree I'll be sure to leave the youngster so it can grow and replace its parent.
As I walked through the trees I scared up Cooper, our big Cooper's Hawk. I know, the nickname isn't that original but it helps me keep all the raptor species straight. So far I have counted six raptor species out here. We have so many that I think I should call the Black Swamp Bird Observatory and tell them they can come out here anytime to hold bird watching events. I really should join but with my crazy work schedule I don't know if I'd be able to participate much.

I checked for signs of activity near the Screech Owl nest box we mounted in December (below). I don't see any indications that the owls have been in it. I know they use the windbreak for hunting along with the hawks, so I feel confident they will use it...that is, if we've done our homework and placed the box properly. Time will tell! In the meantime I'll keep an eye out for them.

And how is it that everyone I know has found an owl pellet but me? Hopefully I'll stumble upon one before long.

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