The Mountain Log

A week-by-week look at what is happening in nature.

A special thanks to Virginia Barlow’s Ginny’s Calendar in Northern Woodlands Magazine.

Photo by Steve Ryan

Week 12

Phoebes are back, often choosing nest spots where they will be disturbed, causing everyone to stop using the front (or back) door for a few weeks / Trees in flower: quaking aspen, big toothed aspen, cottonwood, red maple, silver maple, American elm, speckled alder, beaked hazelnut, and the willows / Winter wrens are early risers. Their high-spirited song is one of the longest and most complex bird songs known / Canada and snow geese are passing overhead

Photo of water bird

Week 11

Peak of black duck migration / Male common snipe have returned and begin their aerial displays before the females arrive, about two weeks later. Listen for their eerie, wavering sounds from wet meadows / Sharp-shinned hawks are arriving, sometimes following flocks of smaller birds and picking off the stragglers. Birds make up about 95 percent of a sharpie’s diet / The drumming of woodpeckers, like the songs of male songbirds, is a territorial advertisement


Week 10

Needles of roadside white pines have now turned brown if they have been exposed to too much road salt / Chickadees are losing interest in the bird feeder. Bears may soon have increasing interest / The white flowers of bloodroot are out before the leaves. The origin of its name will be clear if you scratch the root / Gray fox are giving birth, in hollow logs or trees, or in a burrow in a bank / Willow pollen is the first spring food for many species of bees

Hemlock cones

Week 9

Look for golden crowned kinglets hanging from hemlock cones and hovering at the tips of twigs / The seeds of Jerusalem artichoke (having nothing to do with Jerusalem or artichokes), a small, yellow sunflower, are eaten by birds / Shaking the tall, straight stalks of mullein will release a shower of tiny, black seeds on the snow / On cold nights, ruffed grouse plunge into deep snow.

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