28 Dec. 2017

It's been very cold the past week or so. When I have gone down to the Red it's been at or below -25C, and not much has been out. Over the past several days, I've heard one or two chickadees, an occasional Nuthatch, and have seen one or two crows. Today (at only -20C), there were several chickadees, and at least one Nuthatch, which seemed bothered when the chickadees moved in. managed to get a shot of a chickadee, although it's not a great shot. -20 is not a good time to be waiting and adjusting a camera with bare hands. http://inaturalist.ca/observations/9284695

Posted by mamestraconfigurata mamestraconfigurata, December 28, 2017 17:48


Are there any Great Gray Owls where you are? I commend your willingness to hike in such cold temperatures.

Posted by amzapp almost 5 years ago (Flag)

Actually, the Great Grey Owl is our Provincial bird! Personally, I have never seen one. I wasn't actually taking a hike, per se - I was taking my dog for a walk along the river (Red) bank. For a place within a city, it's very wild, and I've been walking down there for a decade or so. It's interesting to see the seasonal fluctuations in flora and fauna, as well as the river. As for the temperature, someone recently said that there is no such thing as it being too cold, only bad clothing choices! After a while, it just becomes normal temperature. It just takes longer to get ready to go outside.

Posted by mamestraconfigurata almost 5 years ago (Flag)

Brrrrrr.... That's crazy cold -- painfully cold. It's amazing that any organism could function in that temperature!

Posted by sambiology almost 5 years ago (Flag)

@sambiology But it's a dry cold (standard response)! I'm also amazed at the organisms that are out and about at those kinds of temperatures. Many organisms either leave, or have some strategy to make it through the winter in a dormant state. Then there are the little wee chickadees and nuthatches that seem to be happily active all year long. I don't know how they manage it. They work hard for their food, and must lose heat at an astonishing rate - I'm sure the death rate must increase when it gets cold like this, but enough get through the winter to make them common. I'd love to know if they have any physiological adaptations that assist them, and perhaps one day I'll look into it.

Posted by mamestraconfigurata almost 5 years ago (Flag)

Exactly. I remember seeing a House Finch on our feeder when it was -10F/23C (Montana) and wondering how it didn't freeze solid. This article has some interesting insights.


Posted by amzapp over 4 years ago (Flag)

Thanks for that link. It does have some insights, but it is still mind boggling that birds manage to survive. Mammals can get underneath the snow where it is warmer, but the only bird I know of that dives into snow is the ruffed grouse.

Posted by mamestraconfigurata over 4 years ago (Flag)

Joan Collins, in the Adirondacks, has documented Redpolls diving into the snow. I think she published something on it - I'll have to see if I can find a link for the paper. It is amazing that such tiny birds can survive.

Posted by caththalictroides over 4 years ago (Flag)

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