Oh Baby!

It’s so cold outside that probably the smart thing to do would be to stay snuggled within, but I couldn’t.

a-bluejay with seed

After all, the birds were on the move, though they were a bit puffed up, a normal behavior when the temp is below zero. Their feathers help insulate them from the cold (and my hands understand that as they were tucked inside down-filled mittens). Fluffing up traps as much air as possible, thus keeping our avian friends warm.


Their feathers are also waterproofed with an oil coating, a good thing on this not only frigid, but also slightly snowy day.

s-frost around squirrel homes

As I wandered, I noticed that the squirrels and maybe other small mammals had decided not to venture forth and found plenty of evidence that they were huddled inside. Ice crystals formed in holes beside trees, and . . .

s-frost by stone walls

openings in stonewalls . . .

s-frost again

reminded me of the feathery display on our windows on cold winter mornings. These were the mammals’ windows–such as they are.

s-stained glass

And speaking of windows and ice, which has lasted longer than usual following the Dec 23rd storm, everywhere branches reminded me of stained-glass leading highlighting the picture of our winter world.

s-red maple buds

But, here’s the thing about ice. Like feathers, it also serves as an insulator, keeping leaf and flower buds along tree branches protected from the cold. Oh, they have waxy coatings, but the ice adds another buffer.

s-beech bud

Some of the sights I saw today made me chuckle, like the beech bud poking through one of the tree’s marcescent leaves.

s-pinecone on maple

And a maple pinecone.

s-saw-whet owl 1

But my favorite find of all flew in while I was making my way rather nosily through a dense patch of hemlocks. Another where’s Waldo moment. Do you see it?

s-saw-whet owl 2

Yes, a Northern Saw-whet Owl! A first for me in the wild.

s-saw-whet 3

We shared about ten minutes together and it was definitely an “Oh baby!” occasion (which I reported to Jean Preis for our local Bird Count).

And with that, I’m proud to say, “It’s a boy!” The bird, I’m not sure. But I’m a great aunt to Baby Bud who was born at 12:24 this morning. May he develop a sense of wonder about the natural world and a love for winter.

The owl was the icing on the cake on this special day–Oh baby!


21 thoughts on “Oh Baby!

  1. Love the owl – lucky you! There were a couple of tufted titmouse at my feeder this morning that were so puffed up they looked like balloons of themselves!

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  2. Yes, PastPeter, and I get to fill out a rare bird report for it–to back up my finding for the Christmas Bird Count because most migrate in the fall. It was such an honor to spend time with the owl. And to be so close.

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    1. No noise. All of a sudden I realized a bird was flying in rather quietly. And then it remained close even when I moved closer. And yes, in my “backyard.” As usual, I was trespassing, but it’s hundred of acres that are not posted. Still . . . so close to town and so many wonder-filled opportunities over two plus decades. Today’s goes to the top of the list.


  3. You are scaring me!..but if you can do it, so can I!!

    “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.” Bob Dylan

    Sent from my iPad


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  4. Had a snowy owl perched on roofs in our complex here in Bethel Ct last week. Quite the surprise and so disappointed not to have a camera that made him more than a lump. Binoculars allowed for a great viewing as he did his owl head turning display!

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  5. Congrats on the new member to your family and the wild owl sighting, that is my dream too, I’ve heard them in the fall, but now that it is so cold, I don’t know if it will happen until spring. Happy New Year


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