I found winter: the juncos have it.
I knew that my field sites would be under snow in the winter. I knew that the pass closes, and that there is a ski place below some of my highest sites. Still it’s impressive to see the seasons in action.
This is one of my sites in July. The tall corn lily flower in the center, in front of the sapling, marks the location of the nest belonging to juncos SAIR and MERA.
The chicks grew up, were banded, and fledged. Time passed. This is that same area, complete with a corn lily flower, not too long ago:
Everything was brown, and snow lay in large patches.
At a site lower in elevation, the vegetation was mostly dead but there wasn’t yet any snow.
When I went back most recently, the situation had changed. I can’t even show you SAIR and MERA’s nest because the road to that site was closed. The lower site pictured above, however, had transformed into this:
Mine were the only human footprints there, but squirrel tracks connected tree trunks across the snow. The juncos were distinctly more spherical than they had been in the summer, all puffed up against the cold.
At an even lower site, the snow had not yet blanketed everything, and the juncos foraged on the few patches of bare ground.
This is just the beginning of the juncos’ winter.
The seasons add a lot more drama to their life than ours.
Beautiful snow pictures. Perhaps I need to take a trip up into the mountains over Thanksgiving.
Your winter photos are stunning and so enjoyable to look at, and yes they are a real encouragement to put on the boots and hike a bit.