As winter ebbs and we finally head toward spring green-up, the dead (“marcescent”) leaves of ironwood and oak trees, as well as beech trees in eastern Wisconsin, continue to rattle from their branches in every wind, unlike nearly all other deciduous species that dropped their leaves in the autumn.
I’ve always wondered why these species would retain their dead leaves throughout the winter.
In a recent analysis of almost two dozen studies and over 92,000 records, federal scientists have found that between 365 and 988 million birds are likely killed in the United States each year as a result of collisions with buildings.
The most exciting, albeit brief bird sighting so far this winter occurred on Feb. 18 when Sally Murwin spotted a loon-like bird on a patch of water kept open by a neighbor’s aerator along the south shore of Lake Minocqua. The bird was actively diving and fishing, and appeared quite healthy, but it was smaller than the common loons that frequent our area during the breeding season.
The Department of Natural Resources weekly Outdoor Report indicates that ice conditions have improved on many lakes in the wake of colder weather, but noted variable weather conditions made for erratic fishing.
Many different species of birds winter in Wisconsin, making backyard bird watching a favorite pastime of many. Armed with camera and/or binoculars, the backyard enthusiast can spend enjoyable hours observing and learning. The bird watcher can even benefit the birds themselves, as long as the feed is high quality and delivered regularily and with due care.
Ice conditions continue to be an issue. The Department of Natural Resources weekly Outdoor Report cautions people about thin ice and potentially dangerous conditions on lakes throughout the state, saying there have been a number of reports of vehicles and anglers going through the ice.