Monday, February 13, 2012

Northern Flicker and Downy

I always forget how large Northern Flickers are (wingspan of 17-20") until I see them with other birds. Here's a yellow-shafted one with a male Downy Woodpecker.

While we have flickers around our yard in the summer, I tend to think of them more as a winter visitor. For the past four or five years we've had a pair in the yard all winter, using the heated baths and coming to our suet feeders. During the summer, natural food and water sources are abundant so we don't see them daily like we do in the winter. Maybe it's the same pair, just forced closer to the house due to diminished food supplies...

Fun fact: Flickers are the only ground-feeding woodpecker in North America!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Frost and Finches

Last night's drop in temperature brought a gorgeous frosty morning here in the St. Croix Valley. Even the barbed wire is frosted. All the spikes face north on the frost, reflecting a northern wind as the frost was forming. The south side of everything is frost-free.

I thought this was hoarfrost, as rime ice typically only forms in moist areas, but after more research, I think it is actually rime ice as it formed in the foggy conditions last night while the temperature dropped. From what I understand, hoarfrost is formed without fog moisture and usually is more feathery instead of spiked. It's softness arises from condensation, whereas the spikes of rime ice come from deposition.

Would appreciate learning more from any of you who are familiar with the two processes!

I love the silhouette of the frost and finch: