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Snowbirds and Snowdogs


snowa02-04-11.jpg  In our annual attempt to show the world that yes, we do get snow in Austin, Texas, a brief snowfall yesterday blanketed our city in a lovely, albeit, thin, layer of white.

snowc02-04-11.jpgOf course, that's reason enough to celebrate -- most schools were cancelled for the day, to the delight of kids everywhere, and many businesses stayed closed. Actually, safety was the main concern -- under the snow were patches of hazardous ice, and we saw many cars spinning their wheels and sliding out of control. snowp02-04-11.jpg

But not only do we get snow in Austin, we also get to show the world how to do the white stuff right -- it melts away the very same day. Okay, that's not really a plus -- it would be nice to see the snow last a little longer...

Even though the snow might be short-lived, we've had freezing temperatures all week. A few days ago, all water had turned to ice.


This gave the snow many nice surfaces to stick to.


The backyard pond was also covered in ice and snow, but the waterfall managed to keep flowing, even past the new icicles.

snowe02-04-11.jpg snowd02-04-11.jpgThe garden path and grass areas created a wave in the back.


The birds were busy at the feeders, keeping warm by eating high-energy foods. The male cardinals were a hoot, so to speak -- they decided that their best bet was to just fluff up and hang out in the feeder trays rather than waste energy flying back and forth. Of course, the other birds weren't too thrilled with that plan. But after awhile, the males would make way for their mates, and then the masses of other birds would fly in, too.

For the ground foragers, we put a tray of birdseed out on the snow. It didn't take long for the birds to scatter seeds about.


I'd really hoped to get a photo of a bird hopping in the snow, but the kids were running around outside doing the snowball thing, so the birds didn't linger on the ground long enough for a picture. I did manage to get this pretty female cardinal -- she was waiting for a turn at the feeder.


I'm not sure whether it was a trick of the light, but when she turned her head, it looked like she had a bit of snow on the feathers around her left eye -- making for very pretty lashes.


This beautiful cardinal inspired me to make a snowbird (I'd asked the kids to make me a snowman, but apparently this was the year for snow fortresses). I still have memories of last years' mudmen, so I guess those will have to suffice. But I love my little snowbird. 

snowj02-04-11.jpg It reminds me of how my mom and I used to listen to Anne Murray songs together -- many, many years ago. Anyone else remember the song "Snowbird"? Yes, this gives a semi-clue to my age, or thereabout.

  snowk02-04-11.jpgI think of all us, the ones who love the snow the most are the dogs. They run and chase and play. The husky and mountain dog are really in their element.



snown02-04-11.jpg snowo02-04-11.jpgEven though most of the snow came and went yesterday, the shady areas outside are still white this morning. But that will change -- the high today should be about 56 degrees Fahrenheit. To my family of men, that means shorts-and-T-shirts weather! I'll still have my coat on...

Muddy Snowmen (Central Texas-Style)



snow02-23-10.jpgAnd lots of it! Well, lots for us here in Austin. Finally, after years of waiting, we had enough stick long enough and be the right packing consistency to make decent-sized snowmen. The problem is that, as usual, we didn't get enough to make white snowmen. And what snowmen were made usually used up all the snow in the yard.

But without further ado, I give you a parade of snowmen, complete with mud, leaves, twigs, and grass. 'Cause that's how we do it here in Austin!


snowmanc02-23-10.jpg snowmand02-23-10.jpg snowmanb02-23-10.jpgYou can tell which ones got made earlier in the day, before the snow started melting.

It seems that once again, the only way to get a white snowman in Austin is to stick with the ones less than a foot tall.

snowmane02-23-10.jpg What do you think, Ernie? Winner?

ernieinsnow02-23-10.jpg Hmmm, that judge didn't seem to happy with any of the selection. Let's ask his twin, Grover.grover02-23-10.jpg Clearly, our judges have better things to do than look at muddy snowmen. How 'bout frisky-time in the snow?!!

dogsinsnow02-23-10.jpg We rescued our husky some 3.5 years ago, and this is the first time we've ever seen him in snow. He loved it.

lokisnow02-23-10.jpg So did our beautiful Sheba.

sheba02-23-10.jpg Something about the snow today really brought the birds to the birdfeeder. I guess they don't care for the snow covering up the food plants. Here's a cardinal and chickadee.

  cardinalchickadee02-23-10.jpg cardinal02-23-10.jpg And a blue jay. Yep, he fussed at other birds nearby. Didn't care much for the photographer, either!

bluejay02-23-10.jpg And here's a tufted titmouse and a new beauty.

titmouseandother02-23-10.jpgI feel I should recognize this cutie. Can anyone identify it for me?  Turns out it's an American goldfinch in its winter plumage (thanks, Caroline!).

birda02-23-10.jpg I love those golden feathers around its face.


Sadly our snow is mostly gone already, but it was fun while it lasted. I'm happy the schools let our kids go out and play in it, and there was enough after school that my boys got to make their own muddy snowman. I'll let you figure out which one it was. Shouldn't be too hard...   :)

Lo and Behold, It's Snow


As I look at the weather report here in Austin, I see that we are expected to have some rather low temperatures in a few days. There's a chance of snow, according to the weather folks, but here in Austin, we follow the weather motto of "we'll believe it when we see it." However, up in Dallas a few days ago, when visiting grandparents, we really did get to see snow. And even throw a snowball or two! It was beautiful.



  winterc12-29-09.jpgAt a nearby pond, ducks swam in the cold, cold water. This duck rested on shore with snow gently landing on its back, until it decided I was too close for comfort and swam off to join its friends.

  winterd12-29-09.jpg winterk12-29-09.jpg Grover at first didn't care for the snow, but soon enough he was catching it in his mouth, much like his human family was doing.

wintere12-29-09.jpg He also enjoyed playing catch the snowball. Well, once.

winterf12-29-09.jpg My dad's satellite dish created an image under the snow, almost like a sun that's lost its heat.

winterg12-29-09.jpg winterj12-29-09.jpg The snow and ice lingered for less than a day, but it was enough to make us content that we'd at last experienced a real winter day.

winterh12-29-09.jpg winteri12-29-09.jpg

And then it melted just in time for us to continue our journey to another Texas town to see more of our family. Now, back in Austin, we wonder what winter weather moves our way. Snow? Ice? Certainly cold. Brrrr. Hot chocolate time.




And for a few glorious minutes today, it snowed. Flurries drifting through the air in the middle of the day -- that's a sight rarely seen here in Austin. Most of the time that it snows here, it sneaks in during the middle of the night or early morning.

I was at the gym, mourning my missing yoga pants -- I'd left them at home in a rush to get to my spin class. So in cycling shorts I got to spin, take a yoga class, run an errand, and get lunch, all the while with people looking at me strangely that I'd be in shorts in such cold, cold weather. But as I headed back to my car, beautify wispy bits of white snow began to drift down. Watching them float through the air was mesmerizing. Soon there was enough that I had to turn on my windshield wipers to see the lane in front of me. And as I approached my subdivision and nice warm house, the snow faded away. Coincidence? I think not.

By the way, I also accidentally left my yoga mat at home. Guess what happened to it in a house with three dogs?

Meredith O'Reilly happily
gardens for wildlife in
Austin, TX. She enjoys
educating people of all ages
about native flora, fauna,
and healthy environments.

Nature Blog Network


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