January 21, 2013

Sandhill cranes

It was Wings Over Willcox this weekend, the annual birding festival in our nearby town. The Sulphur Springs Valley is well known for its birds and this time of year all manner and nationalities of birders descend on us. The main feature of WOW are the sandhill cranes who come here by the thousands, between 15,000 and 20,000, to overwinter in the valley.

There are many birding activities and tours at WOW, but Dan and I decided to do our own crane viewing this morning. Over the years we have learned that one does not need to get up in the dark to see the cranes who, at dawn, leave their resting place to go in search of breakfast out in the agricultural fields. One can get up, have breakfast, and then find the cranes in their feeding areas. One of the large ones was less than 5 miles from the house.

It is spectacular to see and hear these birds. They are big, graceful, and have the sweetest sound while flying overhead. We spent the morning going from feeding grounds to their resting place and were home in time for lunch. Great Monday morning!

January 13, 2013

It is C-O-L-D

In the summer we look at our clothes closet and say "why do we have these fleece jackets and long pants? Will we ever wear them again?" Now we go "short sleeves? shorts? sandals? When, if ever?" I suppose ours is a typical landlocked climate, one of extremes.

It is not bad during the day, at least we do get above freezing, but at night the temperatures are in the teens. All is well if your animals are the indoor type: Emma and Shawna have it made. But it's the outside ones ... We are feeding birds, chickens and horses as if there is no tomorrow, but the real problem is water.

Last year we relaid out the outside waterlines deeper into the ground and installed cold water faucets, a huge improvement. But when the buckets and founts freeze, even inside the coop, we have to come to the rescue. I fill the bird bath every morning with warm water and break the ice on the wildlife dish, and we are staying ahead of it.

It is much appreciated. While cooking pancakes this morning I noticed a hummingbird on the feeder, at 17 degrees, and a Cooper's hawk in the ash tree who flew off when three coyotes came to drink. More freezing nighttime temperatures for the next couple of days.