Although there are still patches of snow around, I found this Salamander in the snow. I put it on the birch bark for the photo.
Here are some of the comments I received:
Nice find!!! It was probably sun bathing to help regulate its temperature. Might have just come out of hibernation? Are you familiar with how Amphibians hibernate? The first frost of the fall signals their livers to convert glycogen to glucose,essentially creating a natural antifreeze that spreads to the tissues and organs throughout their body. Pretty neat find there!
Wow! It does seem early but when I looked in my field guide one of the first things it said was “This cold tolerant salamander”. I am guessing it might be a blue spotted salamander. Did you notice any small blue spots? They migrate from where they hibernate to the ponds they will breed at in April according to the guide. Recently someone had posted a photo of a garter snake by some snow. Apparently they both can get a move on in cool weather despite being cold blooded.
Red-winged Blackbirds arrive back up north before the ponds are ice free. This is when they will come in to feeders and eat sunflower seeds. It’s cold out and he is keeping his red feathers hidden for the most part.
When one of his brothers get too close, he flares up his “epaulets” showing the red feathers in his wing.
Peanut butter smeared on a board is appealing to many birds.
Soon the Redpolls will be heading back north to their breeding grounds in the arctic.
It’s been a long time coming, but spring is teasing us with warmer temperatures. Some of the early arrivers include:
Ever notice how the Grackle flies with their tail held diagonally? That is a breeding display and the males only do this in the spring. The rest of the year they hold their tail normally.
The familiar call “konk-a-dee” can be heard early in the spring. The Red-winged Blackbird comes north very early – even before their ponds and sloughs have open water. This time of year they will come into feeders and eat sunflower seeds.
If you have an old moose antler in your garden, you might capture a photo like the one above! I got this photo a few years ago. The Fox Sparrow is an early migrant as they make their way back to their Canadian breeding grounds. This sparrow has a beautiful song.
Another early arriving bird is the Northern Saw-whet Owl. They are very vocal in the spring as they set up territories and call for mates. I took the above photo in southern AZ, but they are pretty easy to find and see up here right now. Here is a link to their tooting call: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Saw-whet_Owl/sounds
Last weekend at the Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival, there was a Pine Grosbeak that was said to be “xanthocromic”. That term means there are yellow feathers. This Grosbeak has that orangey-yellow feature. The next photo is a normally pigmented male Pine Grosbeak
Pine Grosbeak, male
female Pine Grosbeak?
I question this being a female as there are “Bronze” Pine Grosbeak and this may be a young male transitioning into his adult plumage. This time of year before the Pine Grosbeak return north to Canada, they are molting into their adult plumage. It is interesting watching the different shades as they change.