Backyard Almanac: After an extended stay, aut-win is finally passing by.
“Aut-win” may finally be over, says Larry Weber. The temperatures are getting cold enough and the snowfall predicted for the weekend should be enough to cross officially into winter. In November we saw only 1/3 of the usual snowfall for the month and it ended without any snow on the ground.
The ground is now freezing – as it should – so snow cover is the next important step for the ground critters that depend on snow for protection. Snowshoe hares, for example, have turned white so they can’t blend in, and field mice spend winters living on the ground under the snow cover (the “subnivean zone”) where temperatures can remain near the freezing point all season.
Hawk Ridge observers are still seeing many of the “late migrating” raptors passing through – bald eagles, golden eagles, rough-legged hawks, etc. And Larry has noted many sightings at his feeders of what he calls the “same six” – chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, white-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, and red-bellied woodpeckers.