Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Paddy’s Day Snow Visitors

Nosing for red-hot poker leaves

 St. Paddy’s Day 2014 snowstorm left us with about nine inches of snow—and some unusual visitors to our bird feeders.  With the extra snow and ice cover we’ve had this winter, I think I now know why I uncharacteristically bought 80 pounds of sunflower seeds last fall, rather than the usual 40.

Cleaning up sunflower-seed shells

Bird feeders, of course, are for birds—and we see lots of them. Typical birds scrounging for seeds under our feeders are white-throated sparrows, song sparrows, juncos, and cardinals.  Chickadees, titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, and downy and red-breasted woodpeckers feed at the suet and seed feeders.

St. Paddy’s Day snow, however, brought several new visitors.  One was a rufous-sided towhee that was ground feeding with several juncos and white-throated sparrows.  Then arrived three deer, which normally don’t come so close to our house during daylight hours.
Towhee deer-watching
But the deer apparently were desperate for food—any kind of food.  One doe pushed her nose through the snow and pulled out several dead red-hot poker leaves, which normally deer don’t browse because the leaves are so tough and stringy.  And then the three all but inhaled sunflower-seed shells discarded by birds, while the towhee watched from a kousa dogwood tree.

Nearby a garden gnome, with green jacket and, hopefully, insulated underwear, poked his head through the snow to deliver a “Happy St. Paddy’s Day” greeting.
"Happy St. Paddy's Day!"