Ice Storm

Posted by on Mar 23, 2014 in birds, Unmowed Blog, wildlife, winter | 0 comments

A few evenings ago, I was backing the car down the driveway, and thinking about something else at the same time. A sure recipe for disaster. And sure enough, I edged into a snowbank. The temperature was just above freezing, the snow soggy and soft, so I stuck fast. Not to worry, I got out the shovel and began to dig.ice storm 022

It had been a rare warm day, full of rain, and the temperature was slowly getting colder as the rain drizzled down. The snow was gray and heavy as wet cement. As I burrowed away, the sinking temperature abruptly hit that magic point where everything changes. Suddenly it was 32 degrees. I know because as I tossed the next shovelful of snow, the whole shovel flew out of my hands. When I retrieved it, the wooden handle was completely covered with a half-inch layer of ice.

It gave me a sense of what it was like for the birds when their whole world of round wooden surfaces suddenly turns to slippery glass.ice storm 008

I dug the car out, but reconsidered driving anywhere. The next morning, the rainclouds were gone and the sky was blue. Everything was glittering.   Every branch was wearing a diamond-hard coating of ice.

Beautiful, but deadly. This is the kind of late-season ice storm that makes it tough for hungry birds to find the food they so desperately need. Berries, buds, and bug-hunting spots are all coated with rock-hard frozen enamel.

Good day to fill up the bird feeders.

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