Embracing Zero

NOCA 12-25-17-3476Well, maybe more like Enduring Zero. Sitting inside reliving Ecuador did not seem to be the best way to spend Christmas Day, so I went out for a walk through the Portage and later visited with the yard birds. We had snow on Christmas Eve so the setting was perfect, and if a little cold, at least the sun was shining in the morning. Little did I know at the time that Christmas Day’s weather would be considered balmy by the next day’s standard. And this morning I walked to the train in -4 degrees Fahrenheit, before the wind chill.

Deer Tracks 12-25-17-3451

Deer tracks in the snow at the Chicago Portage

I drove around for 40 minutes to various Cook County Forest Preserves beyond the Portage, all with closed parking lots. I am not fond of driving but it was pleasant enough listening and singing along with a Peter Mayer (from Minnesota) CD, and there were hardly any cars and the sun was shining brightly. When I did returned to find the Portage parking lot open, I was the only visitor. The trails were covered the deer tracks.

WTSP 12-25-17-3492

White-Throated Sparrow

When I did find a few birds, for the most part they were half hidden.

DEJU 12-25-17-3526

The most commanding presence was snow covering everything. Beyond that, I found a few geese and ducks on the Des Plaines River.

Just as I was leaving, an adult Bald Eagle flew over. I didn’t get a picture, but below is a juvenile from last week’s Christmas Count on the Fox River.

BAEA 12-16-17-3400I decided to go home, fill the feeders and hang out with whoever showed up in the yard.

HOSP 12-25-17-3648

House Sparrows have learned to hang upside down if necessary…

There were a number of House Finches, and although the light was waning, I was surprised to see the males looking as red as they did.


HOFI 12-25-17-3667I am always happy to see Mrs. Cardinal and any hardy little Dark-Eyed Junco.

NOCA 12-25-17-3632DEJU 12-25-17-3562My male cardinal swooped in for a remaining hawthorn berry and posed with it. As if to verify his supreme redness.

NOCA 12-25-17-3657I still have the weather for Quito on my phone. The temperature seems to stay around 58-60 degrees. I think it’s time to go back to the pictures from Ecuador. If you made it this far, your reward is three pictures of Long-Tailed Sylphs. More to come in the next post.

Long-tailed Sylph 11-25-17-0813Long-tailed Sylph 11-25-17-0817Long-tailed Sylph 11-25-17-0801I find some satisfaction in knowing the days are already getting longer.

10 thoughts on “Embracing Zero

  1. The cold wave is here in Georgia too! We are getting days with low 20º F’s. The number of birds going to the feeders has dropped to a minimum. I keep dreaming with the warm seasons. You have more chances to get birds at the Chicago Portage than I in my backyard. Have a great and prosperous New Year Lisa! 🙂

    • Oh thank you so much, dear friend. My hopes are for you to have a great and prosperous New Year as well! I am sorry to hear you are in the grip of this cold too. It seems we have managed to skip this extreme cold for a couple winters…and now it’s back with a vengeance. I know it’s too cold when the squirrels leave peanuts in the feeder!

    • I might be out in the yard more this coming weekend since the cold is continuing and see if I can capture the less-frequent visitors who wait until the sparrows and house finches are gone.

  2. Oh, those long-tailed hummingbirds are so delightful. As for winter, I really don’t want to tolerate zero, but we don’t have much choice. Sounds like I’ll have to get out the shovel when we get back home.

    • I’ll be shoveling when I get home from work today. Oh well. I haven’t quite reconciled my feelings about snow. It’s pretty when it first falls, it makes a soft, quieting blanket on the landscape, and if I never had to go anywhere it probably wouldn’t annoy me. But if enough of it falls I’ll be digging out the car tomorrow too. Sorry you can’t escape the snow, but you are in Minnesota. 🙂

Leave a Reply