I am parked by the studio window with a long lens at the ready. It snowed overnight and the world is swathed in cotton wool. As always, the fresh snow serves as glowing backdrop for the feeder and its visitors. No woodpeckers yet today for the suet but the sunflower feeder is alive with chickadees and goldfinches (dressed in their winter drabs). There are no tracks below it. The squirrels have finally given up on defeating its clever new design and are probably sleeping in. No sign of other tracks either. The deer have left themselves few leaves to munch and the predators also seem to have taken the day off. I came across an old journal recently and was struck about how often the foxes used to drop by, sometimes just to watch the traffic on the next block, but more often on the job. We haven’t seen any foxes here for several years. They’ve been displaced by the coyotes and coywolves who claimed their denning sites, although the perfect den behind us on the ravine seems to have been abandoned completely. Should put up a “For Rent to Anyone with a Beautiful Bushy Red Tail.” You never know. Anyone who had starred in a famous Canadian short story might have learned to read by now.
This painting was born of a winter visit to the euonymus just outside the studio. It was several years ago, before the deer had added evergreen shrubs to their menu. A small flock of robins was finally desperate enough to eat the berries; it took them only a few minutes to strip the bush and they were gone. The starlings who arrived the next year (and in much bigger numbers) put the robins’ pace to shame. I doubt that their commando raid took even a minute and the photos I grabbed were all blurred by their frenzied gobbling. We do try to plant food sources for wildlife so, just as at a dinner party, we are delighted to host appreciative eaters. And we didn’t even have to clean house first.