Wednesday, December 16, 2009


"Fall has fell and it is colder than .... usual." I remember this "slogan" when I was a little kid, as I read the clever Burma Shave signs along the scenic byways. The slogan holds true this December, as the bitter north wind creates -20 to -30 wind chills.

The birds seem to be taking this weather in stride; similar to the humans that inhabit Cook County. Most of the human "snow birds", have flown the coop, headed for the sunny south... the rest will follow after the Christmas celebrations with family and friends.

In this December cold weather blog, the American Crow, Pileated Woodpecker, Blue Jay & Bald Eagle are pictured. They are hearty residents of this "frozen tundra" over looking Lake Superior. The only bird on the list that really should be "out of here", is the American Crow... they usually have departed by the first of November. November, however, was beautiful... warm & sunny. So I am assuming, Mr. Crow is winging his way to central, southern Minnesota and points south. Why they think central and southern Minnesota provides a warmer and more comfortable environment is beyond me... I think if I were the crow; points south would be the preferred destination.

The Pileated Woodpecker has flown our woods for the years we have lived on Cedar Ridge.  This is the first year he and his mate have landed on our suet pole and hammered out their treat.  They have returned each day in the early morning and at dusk, chiseling out huge chunks of frozen suet.  We have concocted a mixture of lard, cornmeal and peanut butter to fuel the winter bird's furnaces.  All the birds listed in this post partake of the suet mixture... but big "Woody" is king of the buffet, emptying the top hole of the pole in minutes.

The Bald Eagle is a twelve month inhabitant of Cook County. They fly the shoreline of the Big Lake for the entire winter season. The inland lakes are now frozen over and the Big Bird is here in all his splendor....

The "usual suspects" that I see each winter day are the Black-capped Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Blue Jay and the Downy Woodpecker. The chickadees and the RBs follow me each day, enjoying the hulled sunflower seeds I offer up.

The Blue Jays number 6-8 each morning, perched in our white cedars. It doesn't matter the temperature, they perch quietly in their blue splendor, waiting for their morning "presidential seed mixture", containing peanuts, sunflower seeds and cracked corn. I don't know of a bird that has all the stunning shades of blue in their feathers... I jokingly refer to them as a "flying, blue paint sample chart."

The little Downy is the most social of the woodpeckers, at least on Cedar Ridge. I have had them land on the sleeve of my Thinsulate suit, confused by the birch bark camo pattern... I often think I should carry a form of a suet cake for them. I am sure they would land on it in due time.

I love the winters here in the Arrowhead and these birds make each day more enjoyable. In the coming weeks, I look forward to the arrival of the Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings... accompanied by the beautiful grosbeak families.  Hopefully, I will be able to add some of their stunning colors to the blog in the weeks to come. 

Over the river and through the wood, To grandfather's house we go; The horse knows the way To carry the sleigh, Through the white and drifted snow. 
Mrs. Lydia Maria Child