[ 8511 Greeley Blvd. ] [ Springfield, VA 22152 ] [ 703-451-9588 ]
Almanac for February 2017
Natural events, happenings, and fearless predictions based on 30 years of observations at Hidden Pond. Your observations may vary! Hidden Pond is not responsible for errors, erratic behavior or other whims of nature.
- 1st Week: We now hear the mournful coo-cooing of the mourning dove, an early sign of spring. They are pairing up and may start nesting next month. We are gaining about two minutes of sunshine each day, and our average daily high and low temperatures now slowly begin to rise. Fox tracks in the snow are easily recognized as they carefully place their hind feet in the tracks left by their front feet, unlike our clumsy dogs. Red-bellied woodpeckers now excavate nesting cavities. These cavities may be used later by other birds like titmice, wrens, and chickadees that also nest in holes in trees.
- 2nd week: Full “snow moon” February 10.The constellation Orion is high in the southern sky in the evening. His belt points down to the left toward Sirius, the brightest star in the sky which is 8.6 light years away. Sap begins to flow in the red maples. Their red buds are swelling and on days with below freezing temperatures, sap leaking from the buds may form “sapsicles”. Smooth alder, a shrub found alongside streams and ponds is now in bloom with yellow and purple three inch catkins.
- 3rd week: Red shouldered hawks now perform their courtship displays, wheeling and screaming high in the air. Their distinctive cry is described as a slurred two syllable kee-yer, kee-yer. Chipmunks now awaken from their deep sleep or torpor. They are omnivorous, feeding on seeds, nuts, berries, bulbs, insects, worms, snakes, other small animals and even birds.
- 4th week: Yews are in bloom and release clouds of pollen when nudged. Wood frogs find puddles and call for a mate with a faint quacking sound. Their eggs must develop very quickly into tadpoles, then into small frogs, in a race against the time when the puddles dry up in early summer. Squirrels really do find at least some of the acorns they buried last fall. Warm days find many birds singing, especially the cardinals who seem to say “what cheer-what cheer!” or maybe “wet year, wet year.” Perhaps they sing to celebrate surviving perhaps the toughest month of the year.