Putting in a first appearance this winter in the garden was a Red-breasted Nuthatch to join the pair of White-breasted Nuthatches we have been entertained by more regularly. The RBNU are a more northern species than the WBNU and Montreal is pretty much as far south as they venture. He/she was very busy investigating the many holes in the Katsura tree that have been excavated by the Pileated Woodpeckers and seemed to be finding what was sought.
We had a few days milder days near the start of the week and gradually the snow has been thinning and retreating so that some areas of clear ground have appeared … of course, in this later end of the week overnight freezing rain and temperatures have fallen to near -20C levels and the glazed top of the snow is very slippery and can easily support my weight. The sun is getting some warmth in it even if the air is not and this helps the snow/ice surface to glaze nicely. Our original (see earlier posts) couple of snowdrops are now being joined by others popping up here and there as the snow departs … one group appearing from the middle of a puddle of icy melt-water.
Red squirrels have been very active as they scurry around seeking food, staking territory and thinking hard about making more squirrels. A pair of House Finches are still here hanging out with the resident flock of American Goldfinch. A few Dark-eyed Juncos are working their way through patches of exposed leaf litter below the trees. Even more spring-like, we watched a male Northern Cardinal offering food to a female – which she accepted. Male NOCAs are starting to give up being friends in a gang and to chase other males away from the feeders and “their” trees. The maple trees are now starting to “weep” sugar sap from cracks in the bark and the grey squirrels, in particular, are often seen licking it from the branches as it flows.
Here in Quebec there is a friendly competition going on during the month of March in which people are tasked with finding as many bird species during the month as possible from a list of 100 possibles (for the region) … but to find the birds under “green birding” rules, which basically means you can walk or ride a bike but no internal combustion engines. Currently I have 27 species within walking distance of our suburban home … any of which could turn up in the garden shortly. Well, maybe not the Snow Geese that flew over 🙂 Check it out here: http://pqspb.org/bpqpoq/big-green-march-birding-madness-month/
Eagerly awaiting what next week brings as spring draws closer.