Winter appears to settle in…

This morning was a bit warmer, at 21°F, a bit cloudier, and a bit breezier than yesterday, so not quite as magical, but also not bad by any means.

I was glad to see that our gadwall drake was still here on the lower river and suffering from much less of an icing problem this morning.

Meanwhile, the sturdy mallards were going about their business as usual.

Above the falls, I was happy to see the pair of buffleheads, although they don’t quite seem to be sticking as close together, recently, as the pair did last winter. Maybe they just didn’t hit it off or one of them is holding, out for now, to see who else might fly in. With any luck, we’ll see soon enough.

Bufflehead hen
Bufflehead drake

I think I saw our kestrel rocket north over the water, and I had a hope of finding it again at the north end, but had no luck today. Maybe tomorrow. Instead, I did see the bald eagle yesterday morning in just about the same spot heading north at a more leisurely pace.

At the far north end, I didn’t see the mergansers or bluebirds this time, but there was a young ring-billed gull out on the ice, and it looks like this is its first winter. Welcome to Estabrook, Buddy. Try the fish.

On my way back south, just as I approached the falls again, a bunch of robins flew across the river to forage among the brush and leaves on the side of the bluff, and here’s one just taking in the view for a moment.

Further south, there was a nice male cardinal who didn’t want his picture taken today, so here’s a female from yesterday who was more than happy to oblige or was just too darn cold to move.

While I’m mining the leftover pictures from yesterday, here are a pair of mourning doves on the ice appearing to be getting a sip of water.

Finally, the beautiful morning sunlight yesterday even made this goldfinch’s drab winter coat look a bit more golden.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

4 thoughts on “Winter appears to settle in…

  1. I wish someone would figure out how these mallards etc. can float in water that is obviously extremely cold – would be good for those of us in cold climes. And, my fingers and toes would appreciate it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A lot has been figured out, but I’m not sure you will find it much help.
      1. The water is 32°F, no matter how cold the air gets. In fact, on very cold mornings, I often see mallards splashing water up onto their backs. I do not recommend this technique for you.
      2. Many birds have heat exchangers in the blood flow to and from their legs to extract heat before it goes down there, and then to rewarm the blood on its way back. This preserves heat in the body, but only makes the feet colder, as with our capillary beds that constrict in response to the cold. Neither technique is a step in the direction you would like.
      Birds must simply have evolved to be comfortable with toes at or about 32°F for most of the winter. Since it is too late for that to be any help to you, I suggest electrically heated socks and/or boots and gloves.


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