Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Arctic Front Hits Birds

On Oct. 6 an Arctic front pushed down over western Canada. There were gusty winds to 90kph with snow which accumulated to about 2cm where I live. To say the least, this was nasty, nasty weather.

I have done several posts lately on bird migration and began thinking about how such unseasonally inclement weather affects birds. Fortunately, at this time of year most of the song bird migration is over. A few laggards may be found. A few of the hardier sparrow species are still here. I recently wrote about the dark eyed juncos cavorting through my shrubbery. Juncos tend to show up to feeders in dirty weather. In the worst of the weather I would still hear crows in the early morning. In fact, on Oct. 6 I saw crows putting on awesome flying displays as they flew into the raw wind and caught air currents which form over escarpments.

On Oct. 10 I traveled out of town. Some ponds were frozen, but larger bodies of water still had open water. Larger lakes and rivers were ice free. So the water fowl still had open water for their activities. Fields still provided excellent food for ducks and geese . I saw numerous flocks of geese feeding in the stubble.

I find that my feeder birds tend to disappear when storms like this occur. When the weather calms down birds return to the feeder. I'm never sure if my birds have been blown out of the neighborhood and I have somebody else's birds? Today I had many birds back at the feeder paticularly, red breasted nuthatches. Undoubtedly, some birds perish when the weather changes so rapidly. However, most birds survive and carry on for another day for their own enjoyment.