Minden Press-Herald

Oct 01st

So it’s Said: Birds and Ice Create Something Nice

A couple of weeks ago, area television weathermen were facing the real likelihood of having to wipe egg off their collective faces when they predicted that north Louisiana was about to be encased in a winter wonderland.

We rushed to the store and emptied the shelves of bread, milk, water and batteries and made sure our generators were gassed up and ready to go when the snow and ice encapsulated us.
Didn't happen, at least not in the area it was forecast to effect. It went south and for the third time in three weeks, kids in areas that seldom see wintery precipitation from Baton Rouge to Basile were slipping and sliding on garbage can lids and making snow ice cream while those of us living north of I-20 ate Blue Bell while staring out our windows at a cold ugly scene of gray and brown with not a speck of white to be seen.

However, the second leg of that storm system caused weathermen to wipe their brows in relief and utter "whew" because what was predicted actually came to fruition in northern Louisiana. We got a smidgen of snow, a generous helping of sleet and enough freezing drizzle to convert streets and roads into curling rinks.

With the area in the deep freeze for a couple of days, I was well-fortified with gasoline for my generator, bread, milk and batteries. What did put a dent in the grocery budget for me, though, was bird seed. The birds in my neighborhood apparently spread the word to all their feathered friends around the parish that there was an easy touch over in the Harris yard; the buffet was spread and the feast-fest was on. I have never seen so many birds in my yard at one time, ever, and an hour after filling the feeders, they were empty again.

There is a reason for birds to feed so vociferously in cold weather. Here's what Wild Birds Unlimited had to say...."In much of North America, winter can be a difficult time for birds. The days are short, and nights are often cold and long. The natural food supply has been consumed or hidden by snow.

Most insects are dead or dormant. Water can be hard to find, and food needed to provide the energy to keep birds warm might be scarce."

Frequent trips to the store for more bird seed notwithstanding, the winter weather provided a veritable kaleidoscope of color to the yard. I'd step out the door and the whir of 75 pairs of wings taking off at once was like a giant wind gust.

Cardinals were the most impressive as I'd sometimes look out the window and see three dozen or more splashes of crimson on the feeders, on the ground or perched on nearby icy branches waiting their turn.

In addition to the cardinals, the birds I identified were those that usually visit the feeders in winter, icy weather or not. There were titmice, chickadees, juncos, doves, blue jays, gold finches (which incidentally loved the sack of thistle seed I hung on a branch just for them), red bellied woodpeckers and at least three species of sparrows. I was able to identify white throated and chipping sparrows and one morning, an illusive fox sparrow came to feed.

With the bird bath frozen solid, I helped the birds along by hauling water from the kitchen to give them a source of much-needed unfrozen liquid.

With the possibility of more winter weather in our area before spring turns things green, be prepared to help those pretty little creatures that give our yards such color and flutter in winter. In the words of the lady on television, "It's a good thing".

Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.






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