Happy Christmas to all our PBase Friends!!
Although this looks like a wonderful feast for wildlife, not all the crabapples are eaten. This is because some are cultivated to have fruit unattractive to birds and others, so that it will remain on the tree all winter long, adding colour to the snowy landscape.
Grabbing a mouthful
I counted 11 robins in two small flocks, at the garden. They were moving around looking for food. When I first saw one group they were in the ravine, 7 of them. Later I saw them in a crabapple near the service road to the Arboretum. Finally, I found them on this crabapple by the old field, and they didn't bother flying as I walked by, probably too focused on the all-important job of getting enough fuel into them to stave off the bitter cold. The other small flock of four birds was by the ash woods. This bird was in the process of grabbing a crabapple.
This apple tree still retains a lot of fruit. Sometimes the apples vanish quickly but other times, the fruit hangs on the tree until it drops and rots. This is one of 3 or 4 apple trees, though we don't know the variety. The rest of the Malus species are varieties of crabapple.
Huddled into a spruce, this was one of about 3 cardinals I saw as I walked around the garden today. Taken in the ash woods, near the bird feeder which was not as busy as one would think on such a cold day. There was a white-breasted nuthatch, several chickadees and a cardinal at the feeder.
Relentlessly cheerful, or so we anthropomorphically think, these little birds are always around no matter how cold, always twittering (the real twitter). On really cold days, it is even more of a pleasure to see them.
Frost on the window
It was very cold today. When I arrived at the garden at about 1:30, the outside reading on my car's thermometer was -17. This frost pattern occurred on a few windows, something that doesn't occur in balmy weather of say -5!
Grey squirrel with crabapple
Once again, the squirrels were very busy feeding on anything edible. Crabapples, manitoba maple seeds, bird seed.... both at the garden and in the Arboretum. This one was gobbling down the few remaining crabapples left on this old tree.
Downy woodpecker and black-capped chickadee at suet
The Backyard Garden feeder was very busy this morning, with 5 or 6 house finches, the same number of chickadees, this downy woodpecker, a small flock of juncos, and surprisingly, two white-throated sparrows. A common species, especially in spring and fall migration, this species is not often encountered in winter, though you may recall a couple were seen last winter in the garden.
The two sparrows noticed this morning and mentioned in the previous post.
white-throated sparrow and grey squirrel
Both individuals ignored each other as they looked for seeds under the feeder in the Backyard Garden. The sparrows prefer feeding on the ground, but will fly up to the feeder if no seeds are available below.
The feeder in the Backyard Garden which was very busy on this sunny, but cool day. Below, two white-throated sparrows were feeding on spilled seeds, along with juncos and squirrels. The nearby spruce offers great cover for all the critters to flee to when they are spooked.
This is an Accipiter, one of the falcon-like hawks in our area. Falcon-like because they have long tails, long wings and long bodies, similar to a peregrine falcon. They are woodland hawks, their shape designed to help them navigate at speed through treed areas. They nest in the area, occasionally even at the Arboretum/FWG, though not for some years. The cooper's hawk feeds on large prey such as rock pigeons and I've seen them with red squirrels too.