Monday, February 2, 2009

Up on the roof and another Snowy Owl

Here in northern Maine, a few times a winter, I have to spend a day and shovel off the roof of my house...and porch...and parts of my barn..and shed. On the out-buildings its done purely to relieve the snow load (literally tons of weight from the snow).

On the house, the snow cover provides insulation which is good... to a degree. Unfortunately, I've found, if left unattended, the attractive snow blanket on my less-than-fully-insulated house roof melts on the bottom layers. The melt water travels down to the eave where it refreezes in breathtakingly large ice dams. The ice dams create awesome leaks during melting times and cleave off gutters, railings and other parts of my house when they eventually fall off so,... off the snow must come.

Its hard work but I really don't mind it. Particularly because it gives me an good opportunity to watch my yard birds from an unusual perspective... at and below eye level.

On Sunday I had a large flock of Snow Buntings and Evening Grosbeaks with a handful of Pine Grosbeaks, American Goldfinches, Common Redpolls and American Tree Sparrows working the feeders while I scraped up the snow above them. A handful of White-winged Crossbills buzzed me and lit in my nieghbor's pines to feed. Best of all was Gray Jay that emerged from the Woodland Bog across the street and gnawed on my suet bags for a while.

Today on my way back from an afternoon meeting I stopped at a feedlot in Easton and watched an impressive aggregation of Snow Buntings that has been feeding here for about a month. Though even a marginally accurate count was impossible with some portion of the flock always in motion, I would say 2,500+ buntings are present here. There were at least two Lapland Longspurs in the horde. Starlings, Ravens and American Crows made up the balance of the bird life here.

Late in the afternoon, the Snowy Owl was back at the curve on Route 10 between Easton and Presque Isle. Paul Cyr was able to come over and got these great pictures of the apparent young male before the sun faded.


Kallen305 said...

Absolutely wonderful pictures of the snowy owl!

Tom Pirro said...

Those are some pretty spiffy birds to have in the yard. Evening Grosbeak, while once common, are very very localized in Massachusetts these days.

Bill Sheehan said...

Thanks for the good words Kallen and Tom. I wish I could take credit for the owl pictures but other than telling Paul Cyr where the owl was, I really didn't have much to do with it. Paul only lives a few miles from where this owl was photographed and he came as soon as I called. The bird was perched on the utility pole by a busy (for northern Maine) road. Paul brought an assistant and about a half-mile away from the owl Paul climbed on the roof of his vehicle and had his buddy take the wheel drive by slowly to get the pics!

As for my yard birds, it is an unusual assemblage I suppose! I DO enjoy them. My place is near the edge of woods, fields and a boreal bog, so grobeaks get to meet the buntings and the Gray Jays at my feeders. As you can see I scatter a lot of feed on the snow banks which the ground feeders seem to like.

Now if I could attract an Ivory Gull or two like Mass has right now...I'd have something to brag about.

Christian Conservation Coalition said...

What a beautiful bird. I wish I had those near me in Rhode Island. I only get to see them when I head into Fort Kent.