Arb Sightings 1/21/11

Posted on January 21st, 2011 by

Somehow we made it through the past seven days without experiencing any significant snowfall here in south-central Minnesota. Sure we saw a dusting here and there earlier in the week, but certainly nothing more than an inch of total accumulation. That’s the good news; the bad news is that temperatures have absolutely plummeted as the result of an arctic blast that arrived in the Upper Midwest on Tuesday. This morning was by far the coldest morning yet this winter, as the air temperature (without windchill) reached a staggering 19 degrees Fahrenheit below zero! Yesterday the temperature failed to reach the above freezing mark as well, and coupled with strong blowing winds out of the northwest the temperature with windchill approached 35 degrees below zero. There’s a small chance of snow here in St. Peter for later today, and the temperature is expected to remain below or slightly above zero until Sunday before giving way to warmer temperatures in the teens and 20’s all next week, with a chance of snow on a few days.

Needless to say, in such frigid weather all outdoor activity is severely limited and only made out of necessity. And I’m not just talking about us humans; indeed, the birds, squirrels, and rabbits that frequent near the Interpretive Center have adjusted their behaviors accordingly. The flock of 16  House Finches has been making more frequent visits to the bird feeders behind the Interpretive Center all week, filling up on as many seeds as possible to maintain the warm core body temperatures necessary for survival. Along with two Downy Woodpeckers, one American Goldfinch, and a smattering of Black-capped Chickadees, these birds quickly retreat to their sheltered roosts in the Scotch pines 20 or so yards to the south when finished feeding. Red and Gray Squirrels have decided to refine their taste buds this week by foraging on the fallen golden safflower seeds, which are normally only eaten by birds–we began stocking the feeders with this “squirrel proof” seed in the first week of January (and for the most part the squirrels do avoid them). Lastly, the Eastern Cottontail that lives underneath the Colorado blue spruce in front of the Interpretive Center has decided that it’s better to wait out the cold and conserve as much energy as possible by not leaving his protected burrow…I guess I can’t really blame it.

Gray Squirrel tracks behind Interpretive Center, 1/19/11.

 

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