Sunday, February 2, 2014

Snowed In

We were well and truly snowed in this week just north of Atlanta. Three inches of light powder came down quickly and blanketed the landscape on Tuesday afternoon. Of course we all know that it took officials by surprise, and that humans were caught in a terrible “snow jam,” but how did the natural world fare? 

The view from the deck

From my vantage point, it looked like it fared pretty well. Despite the cold temperature, the sun came out the next day and warmed up big areas of ground. The snow melted quickly off branch tips and tree trunks, lightening the load on the woody plants. Evergreen leaves responded to the sun’s warmth and expanded as if the snow were not even there.

Same plant, one day apart (Illicium floridanum)

Frankly 3 inches isn’t out of the historical norm for this area, and this time of year is the perfect time for it to happen. As I mentioned in my post on the great freeze, dormant plants are well equipped to deal with this.

Pine warbler (left), cardinal and goldfinch (right)

How about the critters? The squirrels appeared to hide for a whole day, but the birds came out in spades. As I mentioned in my winter bird post two weeks ago, I've been using a couple of hanging suet feeders lately due to the extreme cold. I added a third one (I just happened to have an extra wire cage) as the snow turned serious.

A pine warbler during the snowfall

My friend Sheri mentioned that some of the birds that I previously thought did not like suet might come if I deployed a horizontal suet feeder (what, they don't like the spinning one on a chain?). So I did create a makeshift one using a bungee cord and - lo and behold - the brown thrasher stopped by for a bite.

House finch and bluebird

A dark-eyed junco also stopped by plus dozens of the usual suspects. If you had to be snowed in, it was a great show to watch. I had a lot of fun taking pictures of them while the snow was coming down.

The day after, back to looking for bugs!

On the front side of the house (all the food is on the back side), not much happened until the day after. Once the bright sun came out, the birds were there too. Everybody's favorite snag was popular again: the brown-headed nuthatches were there and a red-bellied woodpecker drilled a few holes (the nuthatches fussed and fussed at him for being on their tree!).

Nearby the hermit thrush and a robin were looking for bugs in the pinestraw. An Eastern phoebe waited patiently on the branch tips, occasionally diving and catching bugs on the wing like flycatchers do. And across the driveway, I spied my very first brown creeper checking out another pine tree.

Robin on left, hermit thrush on right

Back at the feeding stations, the bird visitors lessened once the snow melted and the temperatures warmed up. When I walked outside, I spied them elsewhere, looking for bugs to eat. Everything was back to normal for the critters.

The tracks of a yellow rumped warbler (I  saw him)


  1. I wondered how the plants would fare when I read about the big storm paralyzing Atlanta. I especially worried about the palms that I love while visitng coastal Georgia.

  2. We only got about an inch of snow but it was enough. The colder temperatures sure make photographing the birds much easier. I even saw the hermit thrush at my feeders!

  3. what did you use to attract the bluebird. I have them here but they never come to my feeder.