Winter’s Arrival

A quiet trail in Minneapolis, Minnesota, glows with fresh snow and late-afternoon sun.

The “keeper snow” came early this year. In late November, we walked in lightweight clothing and running shoes. Two days later a storm blew in ahead of a Canadian cold front and dropped eight inches of new snow. We’ve entered the stark season. Green is a memory buried under an ice-cold blanket. Gone from our yard are the bumblebees, painted lady butterflies and other pollinators. I’ve put the garden to bed for the winter.

Black-capped chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) are high-energy winter residents in our back yard.

Just ahead of the storm, a mixed flock of robins, dark-eyed juncos, black-capped chickadees and small woodpeckers—both downy and hairy—descended into our back yard. Robins tossed aside leaves to uncover stray insects, seeds and fruit. Juncos sought seeds on the garden wall. Chickadees and woodpeckers hunted for insect larvae and other delights in the bark of our old apple tree.

This afternoon at dusk, a female northern cardinal, softly colored and alone, delicately plucked crabapples one-by-one in our front yard. She was lucky to find any because the portly gray squirrels have stripped most of the tree bare. I am grateful for these winged winter residents that bring life to our garden on even the coldest winter days.

A female downy woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens) excavates for insect eggs and larvae in a dead portion of our apple tree.

8 thoughts on “Winter’s Arrival

    • Hi Jan, they really are well-insulated for winter! I think they’re benefiting greatly from the neighborhood fruit trees and bird feeders. Thanks for reading my blog. — Beth

    • Hi Lisa, I really do enjoy bird activity in the yard and when I’m out walking. Birds add interest to our long winter! I wish the photos were sharper, but I had to photograph the chickadee and downy through a window, so the pics are fuzzy. Thanks for reading my blog! — Beth

    • Hi Tanja, yes, if we have to have winter, let’s have lots of birds! The Tundra Swans are present in large numbers on open rivers in central Minnesota now. Pine grosbeaks, evening grosbeaks, and an occasional varied thrush have begun to arrive. It will be interesting to see what other birds move down from Canada in January! Thanks for reading my blog. – Beth

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