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On Nature's Trail

Ed Bigelow 

February in the old Roman custom was the month of "purification," and was celebrated with ceremony and festivity.  For the naturalist also, it is the time in which the atmosphere, the ground and all things else are purified by a low temperature.

The pedestrian will find it especially interesting if he will select resting places near piles of brush or the bases of trees and study the tracks of the occasional raccoon, skunk, squirrel or wild mouse that has ventured forth from its winter home.  Ascertain if these wild creatures were merely going or were going somewhere.  I am inclined to think that you will arrive at both conclusions.

Then do not forget to study the bark of the trees.  February is an ideal month for that.  At no other time of the year do the woods seem so advantageously barren of everything to obstruct the clear view of holes, branches and twigs.  A light fall of snow, or indeed a heavy fall with its glistening crust, seems to set off every shrub and tree with marvelous sharpness and distinctness, or, as the photographer would express it, they are sharply in focus for the eye.

It should not be forgotten that many birds often counted as migrants are with us all the time; for example, the robin and the bluebird may occasionally be found in thickets and groves of evergreens.  A great many people hail the bluebird as the harbinger of spring, but it might better be called the delight of winter.

Now is the time to feed the birds. Put out some seeds or suet and note how thankfully the birds seem to partake of them.  Food is a very important matter in a bird's life and especially so in the winter.  If there is plenty of food, snow may fall and winds may blow but our winter birds pay little attention to the weather.

Perhaps one of the earliest birds to arrive from the South is the red-winged blackbird, which does not go very far South.  Most Scouts do not seem to be aware that bird nesting begins in late February.  The first to lead off the line is the great horned owl, which in favorable seasons builds its nest in the last week of the month, evidently having full confidence that the warm weather will come.

On Nature's Trail In:


Signs of Wildlife In:

November - December
January - March







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September ] October ] November ] December ] January ] [ February ] March ]

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On Nature's Trail ] Animal Tracks ] Birds in Winter ] Birds Nest Collections ] Nature Collections ] Signs in Jan-March ] Signs: Nov-Dec ] Trees in Winter ] Animals in Winter ] Winter Tree List ] Tree Photography ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.