Well, it's been a couple of days since the "big storm" and digging out is still happening around the Chesterville area. Around 28 inches of new snow fell here, and snow banks are dangerously high all around the roads. More than ever, signs of life around the old farmhouse seems to be waiting for a far off spring to come.
Except for the birds.
All through the remnants of the storm Tuesday morning, the birds continued to flock to the suet and seed feeders. There's the usual crowd of year-round locals: Blue Jays wait their turns for their chance at the suet, while black-capped chickadees and nuthatches hang around for their chance at the feeders later in the day.
There have been some more exotic visitors to the feeders as well. While we have our share of hairy and downy woodpeckers this year, (who have the habit of rapping on the house whether or not there's suet in the feeders) the one that surprised me is the red-bellied woodpecker.
While the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website (a great bird information site, by the way) states this woodpecker has been expanding its territory northward in the last half of the 20th century, their map still shows its northern range into Massachusetts. The same map is seen in all of my bird books. Makes you wonder how accurate these bird range maps really are. It's a fascinating little bird to watch, pecking methodically at the suet to get the good parts -- fruit, nuts and seed.
Not a regular in this part of Maine, this one seems to be surviving well. He's taken up residence under the old blacksmith barn here and on early mornings, just as the sun is coming up, I watch him fly a short distance and glide to a stop under the seed feeder. He's been surviving on the scattering of seeds on the ground as the other birds user the feeders. Healthy and young, we're hoping he hangs around and entices a few females to take up residence around the farm. We'd love to see a little brood of chicks in the old fields around here this spring. And with posting the land against hunting, we hope they'll stay around where it's safe.