Friday, February 16, 2007

Bird Count February 16

Minus seven degrees this am; first day of the birdcount. We have had a few weeks of changeable weather and broken pipes in the house. Cold and dark and snow and ice; no birds and not much of anything else! The patch of open water above the dam got smaller and smaller until finally only swans remained; I don't know if they were just too close for the other birds, but it seems they were too close to each other. One swan finally drove the other away -- they are called "mute" swans but the dispute was quite noisy, I could hear them over the sound of the falling water. The one paddled around below the dam for a while -- I was surprised that the bird is strong enough to swim against the current -- and left. The other one presided alone over it's patch of water, occasionally stretching out its neck and vocalizing. Finally it left too. Jim was driving down to Constantine and saw "forty or fifty" swans on the open St. Joseph below the dam there.

Two days ago a pair of swans reappeared, probably the same ones? No other water birds. An occasional titmouse (Parus bicolor), a white-breasted nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) and oh, something I've never seen before, a brown creeper (Certhia familiaris) skittering up the trunk of one of the elms. The way they move is very different from the nuthatch even though they seem very similar; quicker, darting movement. The markings on its back were very pretty, a sharp clear pattern of brown and white that made me think of a newly-shed gopher snake.

Nothing out there for the bird count except the swans, who are asleep on the ice with their heads under their wings. Too cold! (9am)