Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Cold weather brings a change in the bird and animal patterns of the north country.  The remaining of the heartiest Bald Eagles, soar the shores of ice free Lake Superior searching for sustenance of any kind.

Loyal Black-capped Chickadees are ever present in my forest.  This winter I have more chickadees in the forest than any year in the last decade.  

Most every coat in our house has a supply of hulled sunflower seeds in at least one pocket.  It is hard to get to the garage with out a chickadee serenade begging for a handout.

The raucous voices at dawn announce the arrival of the "jay birds."  Each morning at sunrise I throw a handful of peanuts under the white cedar tree for the Blue Jays.  I usually have six to eight jays racing to beat the first year fawn and red squirrels to the peanuts.

A variety of winter birds and animals draws me to different areas of the north country.  Recently a photographer friend and I traveled the Gunflint Trail looking for a Red Fox hanging out at a local resort cafe.  Unfortunately the fox did not show for the photo op, but in his place a cow moose and calf stopped to check us out on the trail.

During the same time frame, the moon was descending in the western sky behind a spruce covered bluff... moments easier to describe in an image rather than words.

Two miles northwest as the raven flies, I have friends who feed Pine and Evening Grosbeaks.  Their kindness allows me to photograph these birds on their property.  Each day, they get different flocks of these soft feathered birds flying in for sunflower seeds.  Color is difficult to find in the woodlands during this stark period of the year, but the grosbeaks add beautiful color.

This winter has brought another infestation of Common Redpolls to our yard.  I have over one hundred of these beautiful finches gracing our feeder... needless to say they drain the sunflower seeds in short order.  This photo was taken at midday with a -18 below zero high and a -45 wind chill.

The last photo is of our pet buck from last year, that showed up the last week of black powder hunting season.  I told him to be careful and hang around our property, but he disappeared for the last two days of the season.  I had heard from a friend that three deer had been shot on the ridge above our house.  I thought our buck was one of the casualties.  Sunday night, the last day of the hunting season in the far shadows of the motion light I saw a deer.  Out walked our buck friend and I threw him a handful of corn.  It was good news and bad news... the bad news was that the buck was shot across the back... the good news was that the hunter was a lousy shot and took a half inch of flesh and fur.  I thought it interesting that he trusted us enough to show up after his traumatic adventure.  

The buck will survive another winter if he can dodge wolves, weather and highway 61.

Photo by Mary Brislance

"When I hear of the destruction of a species, I feel just as if all the works of some great writer have perished." – U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt