Project Feeder Watch and Wildlife Encounters

Thursday, October 28, 2010
Pine Grosbeak
Last week, our Project Feeder Watch packet showed up in the mail. This morning, a fine snow is falling. Winter is truly coming. 

I grew up with  Project Feeder Watch, a project from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, NY and the new Project Feeder Watch calendar taped on our fridge door is one of the surest indicators of winter's arrival. The project calls upon amateur birdwatchers across North America to set aside two days every couple weeks from mid-November - April, to record the birds who visit your feeders.  The idea is to record the largest number of one particular bird species you see at your feeders at one time. The data gathered over these two day periods is then submitted to the Lab where they can use it to help track trends, disease, and unusual occurrences among the bird populations. The first reporting season starts on November 13th. We still need to buy a big bag of sunflower seeds and get the feeders set up.

We may have yet to make ourselves consummate hosts to the birds this winter, the wildlife certainly haven't been hiding themselves. Every time we drive down the road, we scare up flocks of the migrating snow buntings. Bald Eagles are making their way down to Lake  Superior. I see them wheeling around in the skies.

So many visitors to the museum this summer were less than thrilled with the eight-mile stretch of burned forest they had to drive through to get to the museum. Maybe the new forest (burnt in spring 2007) isn't exactly postcard perfect pretty, but I have seen so much more wildlife in the woods this year that I'm rather inclined to think that our burnt shell of a forest is a quite healthy forest. We even spied a porcupine in the late summer: something I haven't seen since I was teeny.

Yesterday, I spent the day over at the museum, getting the gift shop shut down for the season. In an idle moment, I gazed out the window. A large animal sidled past my car and headed down the pathway to the biffy.  "Oh a stray dog," I thought.  

I looked again. What a big tail that dog had. His eyes were rather large, his paws were a good size and he had big ears.  And such BIG TEETH . . . .

Yeah, that's no stray dog. That's a wolf. 

I decided to keep myself busy inside a little longer. I just didn't feel like being mistaken for a white-tail deer yesterday, or any day for that matter.

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