Recently in winter Category

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...

My Plants Are Frozen and They Can't Get Up


Brrrrr! It's cold out there. Freezing, in fact. This is when local Austinites discover whether it was a good idea to push the zones on what they should or shouldn't plant. Right now I'm worried about my precious young Anacua trees, southern delicates that they are.

  GSwinterbirdsa02-03-11.jpgWinter has found us here in Central Texas at last -- the northern chill has arrived! Add to that the moisture soon to be drawn up from the Gulf, and we might even get a little snow. I've been looking at pictures of the mighty blizzard covering northern states in white -- I think I'll stick with our chance of snow than a full on-slaught blizzard, thank you very much.

GSwinterbirdsb02-03-11.jpgThe birds have been up early and out late, feeding constantly in order to maintain their body temperature. If you visit Beautiful Wildlife Garden today, you'll see my post about how birds deal with cold. Please take a look!    


My cats are glued to the windows, watching the constant traffic of birds at the feeders and ground-foragers on the ground. The squirrels are busy, too -- they've mostly been working the acorn-route, but they'll still sneak some birdseed from to time.GSwinterbirdsl02-03-11.jpg

The birds themselves have been frisky and a little pushy at the feeders. They've also been chirping up a storm. 

GSwinterbirdsq02-03-11.jpg GSwinterbirdsk02-03-11.jpg  The freezing temperatures have made beautiful icicles out of the flowing water in our ponds, and icy patterns glaze the surface of much of the water. I wonder about the plants under the ice, but I'm confident that at least most of them will be fine.

GSwinterpondm02-03-11.jpgSince the birdbaths have all frozen into mini skating rinks, the birds have been visiting our pond waterfalls for drinks. But I've been bringing out containers of water that I can refill periodically -- the birds have drinking like crazy.

GSwinterbirdsn02-03-11.jpg  This old dog bowl might be ugly, but it's easy to refill throughout the day. It needs a rock in it for wildlife safety, but there aren't any birds taking a bath today, that's for sure. I'll grab one from out in the yard next time I go out.

The veggies are in trouble. I could kick myself for not getting my beautiful broccoli out of the garden before the freeze. It sure is pretty, though.


GSwinterbirdsd02-03-11.jpg This little birdie did some foraging in the spinach beds -- I felt lucky to capture a picture. So cute.

GSwinterbirdsj02-03-11.jpgThe Turk's Cap and many other plants are showing the effects of the prolonged cold. There are several that might not survive, especially because I just didn't have it in me to pull out the protective covers this year (mainly because I'm swamped). I guess I'm doing a survival-of-the-fittest experiment this year -- I'm determined that this garden be low-maintenance.  


Some sad news -- the northern winds from a couple of days ago made our pet vulture take flight. Unfortunately, being made of metal, he then plummeted. He'll need some welding repair, poor guy. 


There's a chance for snow tonight -- time to get out and run those last errands before it gets here! Stay warm, everyone!

Spring Forward, Winter Back


Despite the Daylight Saving Time change last weekend and the first day of spring arriving yesterday, a bitter wet cold arrived in Austin this weekend, giving us another freeze to delay the planting of many veggies and the possible demise of newly budding trees, shrubs, and flowers.

It was so cold and wet yesterday that the Hill Country Water Gardens annual Garden Sale, usually having long lines of customers waiting to check out, was virtually empty, and doorbuster sales were being extended.


hcwgb03-20-10.jpgBut today the sun is back, and though the wind is exceptionally gusty and cool, the plants look happier. I know my husband will be happy to stop having to move plants into the garage with more cold weather.

Our new birdfeeder is a hit with the birds. The dome is adjustable, so in theory I can set it to make it difficult for doves and squirrels to reach it.So far it's been fairly successful.

-- Carolina Chickadee 


-- House Finch couple

feederb03-21-10.jpg-- Northern Cardinal couple


feederd03-21-10.jpgI've only seen one dove make it in, and it didn't seem very comfortable. Mostly the doves have been content to search for extra seeds in the leaves below.

doves03-21-10.jpgThe pictures are dark and grainy because I've been using a zoom through my study window. My cats have been joining me at the window, hovering and staring and going through all the motions of tail twitching and stalking, probably wishing 600% that there wasn't a big pane of glass between them and said birdies.

I'm not sure why the birds seem to love this feeder so much more than the other feeder, which still gets frequent visitors, just fewer. Maybe it's the style of the tray feeder, protected by a dome. Maybe it's because of its location near a birdbath, which also gets much more attention now. Maybe they like the tree it hangs from. Maybe they like that the doves can't use it as easily. 


A squirrel has been a little more ingenious, so I'll tweak the height a little more after I enjoy the comedic activities of these larger seed-feasting gluttons.


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...   :)

Icy Falls


Bundled up in parkas, hats, and gloves to drive my son to his basketball game, we noticed how few cars were on the road despite the gorgeous sunny day. I guess most people decided to huddle under heavy blankets and sleep in, given that last night our area broke record lows, hitting the teens and single digits in many areas. It's cold! I love it, even if my plants don't. The cold didn't stop the kids from impressing us with their basketball skills, either. Watching them run back and forth warmed the rest of us up!

icypondc01-09-10.jpgIt's been a relatively dry cold front, but doggy water bowls, birdbaths, and ponds still show us the effects of the temperature drop. I thought our pond would be fine, given that it has a substantial waterfall, but I was surprised to find fat icicles hanging like stalactites under the falls.

icypondb01-09-10.jpgOn the side of the pond where the lilies hang out in better temperatures, a thin icy cover delighted the kids, who poked at an edge to crack it and discovered their fingers didn't care for the freezing water. And in the remaining bits of Ruby Red Runner, full frozen water drops glittered like diamonds in the sun.  

 icypond01-09-10.jpgI hope in the deep areas of the pond, we still have 9 little goldfish awaiting warmer times.

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.


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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