Winter buffet

We had snow down to sea level again yesterday (though this photo is from an earlier, bigger snowfall).

This is oceanspray (holodiscus discolor), a native plant that’s part of the rose family. The seeds you see here are an important food source for birds through the winter. Before going to seed, the plant’s spring blossoms provide nectar to butterflies and other insects.

Hummingbird survival

On Monday, the first day of our snow this week, I saw this Anna’s hummingbird perched on a branch.

Neighbors and friends feed hummingbirds year round and worry if the feeders freeze. In addition to feeding on nectar hummingbirds can also glean insects from shrubbery. In short periods of cold weather they can lower their body temperature at night by entering into a state of torpor, a form of deep sleep. This can reduce their metabolic rate by up to 95% and consequently use up to 50% less energy.

Hummingbirds are fascinating little critters. Click here for more information about how they survive.

Hairy woodpecker

We heard some concerted tapping on a tree was we walked by the other day. This little critter was up there, pecking around for some lunch.

This is a male hairy woodpecker. His long, pointed beak distinguishes him from a downy woodpecker, which is smaller and has a shorter beak.

He pecked for insects almost continually as I watched. His head was in almost constant motion. Can you imagine getting your meals like this? My head hurts just thinking of it.