I thought I needed a new look for the blog now that winter is here. Winter in Wyoming has a beauty all its own. We’ve had some bitter cold temps over the last week, but the cold creates a kind of light unmatched on warmer days. Every morning and every evening there is a rosy glow on the snow set against a greyish blue sky. It’s the color scheme particular to arctic-cold winter days.
Tracks in the snow are another unique feature of our winters. Wildlife unseen in the daylight hours leave their mark. As I look across the snow, I can see the evidence of their existence and I am thankful this landscape is healthy with birds, mammals, and predators large and small.
I’m always struck by how some animals seem unphased by the cold. Life goes on much the way it does in any other season. An example of this was the Sharp Shinned hawk right outside our living room window, lucky enough to have caught a small bird. The meal would go a long way to surviving the cold. The hawk was perched on a limb facing away from us, and thus confounding my already meager bird indentification skills. I know there is a Cooper’s Hawk in the area, but something about this hawk didn’t look the same. After checking a bird ID book, I settled on a juvenile Sharp Shinned hawk. As you can see in the photos below, the Sharp Shinned and Coopers can look very similar. I wish I had a photo of my own I could share, but I knew if I tried to go out and get a photo, the hawk would be gone. I had to settle for watching him/her through the windowpane with the field glasses. What a beauty!
These photos are from the Cornell site “All About Birds.” I couldn’t find their photo sharing policy, but I think I have it right that these photos are attributed to John Rowe (Sharp Shinned) and William Jobes (Coopers).