A Crystal Palace

Sure, it was 11°F, but the sun came out to light up all the ice from yesterday, and it was pure magic!

The coating of ice on the trails was amazing, much thicker than I expected, and the dusting of snow, like sifted powdered sugar, which hid the ice and provided an extra layer of lubrication, was the icing on top. Mwah! How I didn’t end up on my keister, I’ll never know.

I don’t think I saw a single mammal all morning, but the birds were out like crazy, and I lost count of all the cardinals I heard singing, even though I’m using the ebird app to help me keep track.

Cardinals weren’t the only ones singing, either. Here’s a chickadee by the pond that alternated between working on that seed it has clamped to the branch with its toes and singing that sweet, two-note, chickadee call.

Here’s a nuthatch by the pond busily chattering as he foraged.

Here’s a pair of house finches by the pond, who had been singing in a chours until I walked up, now just silently soaking up some sun.

And here’s a male downy woodpecker by the pond hard at work and ignoring all the rest.

By the river, near the southern edge of the ice sheet, I spotted this pair of red-bellied woodpeckers up to something I haven’t seen before. Here are the two of them.

Here’s just the female, with her white forehead, patiently waiting her turn below.

And here’s the male with his full red crown and his beak into something up above.

Then, here’s the male just before he took off.

And here’s the female now moved up and with her beak in the same spot.

Here’s another view from a slightly better angle of the female with her beak deep into a crack or slit in the tree bark.

It turns out that red-bellied woodpeckers will sip sap, either from holes they have made themselves or from holes made by other birds, such as yellow-bellied sapsuckers. Ha! I did not know that until I looked it up just now.

Finally, the river was pretty quiet. I only counted one pair of mallards, a half dozen goldeneyes, and our regular pair of buffleheads.

It’s supposed to stay pretty cold for the rest of the week, but I think the sun will do a number on the ice anyway, so I hope you get a chance to get out and see it before it’s gone.

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.

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