Birding on Backcountry Skis

We’ve had some wonderful powder snow and I’ve been able to break some trails in our woods and adjacent forest with snowshoes.  I carry binoculars on every outing but with some sub-zero days and brisk winds, the birds have been a little sparse.  Most of the action seems to be back at our feeders.

Yesterday, the wind quit, the sun came out for a while, and it was a perfect afternoon to get into the pine forests that surround us.  Of course, my birding companion, Penny the Vizsla, was ready to roll.  Just as I was getting my skis out of the garage, I noticed a couple of birds in trees down the driveway.  I already had my binoculars under my windbreaker and so I took a look, and decided that I needed to get closer.  Of course, Penny was already heading down the driveway.  The two birds were high in a tree and as I got closer and past a tall spruce tree, I could see about twenty “golden globes” perched on the branches of a tamarack.  I intially thought that they were female/juvenile Pine Grosbeaks.  They flew off in a large group – spooked by the dog – and that was it.  I realized later that they were Evening Grosbeaks when I read in The Crossley Guide that they ” form flocks that can often be spotted perched like Christmas lights on a tree….

"Hey Dad, why do you keep stopping and checking the trees?  Let's go!"

“Hey Dad, why do you keep stopping and checking the trees? Let’s go!”

We headed out on the trail that I had earlier packed with snowshoes and enjoyed a nice romp, seeing and hearing chickadees and the usual suspects like crows and blue jays.  It was one of those outings where it was unimportant that I didn’t see any target birds — the fresh air, fresh snow, energetic dog, and perfect ski wax made it a wonderful birding trip.  And perhaps next trip, we’ll spook some Ruffed Grouse or an owl.  The Evening Grosbeaks just added icing to the outing.

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One Response to Birding on Backcountry Skis

  1. Josh says:

    Nice write-up. The woods and birds of Vermont sound very similar to those of my native northern Minnesota (and made me miss it). The ruffed grouse has to be one of my all time favorites, and I love seeing evening grosbeaks.

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