Snow Prints and Raven Warnings

Photo by Mimmo Lusito on

Hello Nature-Led Friends, Thank you for being here! I’m still chewing over my thoughts for the post about Deep Adaptation. I’ve started three versions, but none of them feel quite right.

Last week I was visited by what I like to call an “Uncommon” Raven or Great Mountain Raven, but modern Ornithology doesn’t make this distinction among Ravens. It came down from the mountains to perch at my window. We looked at each other and it made sounds like an animated child. “Hello, old friend.” I said. “Are you the Raven I met before? We watched the sunset from the top of Mount Si and then I walked back down in the dark.”

Here at the lower elevations the Common Ravens are as small as the American Crows. One often needs to look at the tail feathers and beak to tell the difference. Ravens have triangular tail feathers and a thick broad beak (as shown), while Crows have square tail feathers and skinny beaks. To see a Raven such as this is an honor and a blessing. The Raven is an important figure in the stories of the Indigenous Peoples of the Pacific Northwest tribes. My favorite is the Tlingit tribe’s story How Raven Stole the Sun.

Cold Temperatures and Snow were already in the forecast, so I took the visit from Raven as a sign to prepare the landscape for my wildlife friends. I piled up a few extra places with sticks and stones and raked a few leaf piles close to the bushes for extra buffers.

Native Plant Douglas Spirea (Spiraea douglasii) with a log stump border in the snow

The Douglas Spiraea (aka Hardhack) creates thick brush for rabbits and other small creatures to hide in. The stump log border around it provides extra protection from wind-driven snow drifts and creates cavities for insects, garter snakes and salamanders.

Teeny Tiny Squirrel prints
“Doug” Eighth of his/her name the Squirrel

Daisy the Dog, loves to snuffle animal tracks in the snow. These are a pair of coyote tracks.

Winter is mating season for coyotes. They hunt in packs and pairs in search of prey. By the end of January coyote pups will be born. There’s a coyote den in the wetland next to us. I’ve watched six generations of coyotes grow up here. Some people are afraid of coyotes or consider them nuisance animals, but they’ve always been here. This coyote family has lived here longer than I have. My human neighbors often refer to them as “Melanie’s coyotes.” Not because I feed them (I never feed wild animals), but because they hang out in my field so much, even while I’m work out there. These generations were born familiar to my scent. I think they and all the other wildlife around here can smell that I don’t eat meat. They also know I hold no prejudices against them. Each deer, coyote, bobcat, Cooper’s hawk, black bear, etcetera in this neighborhood is an individual to me and not just a product of their species.

“Hey Lady, Are you coming outside?” (Zoomed in so the picture is a bit grainy)

In other local news, some idiot at a tree company ruined a perfectly good Douglas Fir tree on the street behind me. I’m all for a good crown cleanup which involves bringing down large broken branches in a controlled manner and removing a few, A FEW branches for trees close to buildings. Large tree branches that have the potential to fall to the ground and kill people are known locally as “Widowmakers.” In the U.S. Navy, “Widowmakers” is the nickname for submarines. Personally, I find it unattractive when more than five branches are cut from the base to “lift” the tree crown.

My favorite Douglas Fir tree and Doug the squirrel’s home tree. I had it’s crown cleaned up about five years ago because its next to my driveway.

A Healthy Douglas Fir tree _Doug’s Tree
An over-sheared Douglas Fir one street over that now looks like a bottle brush.

I predict this over-sheared fir tree will die from stress and disease within five years. Four of its neighboring trees were removed at the time it was sheared (two weeks ago) and about 30 other trees that had created a large, beautiful stand of trees were removed earlier this year to make way for more housing. Climate Change is death by a thousand cuts to the power of 10, by individual property owners, cities, counties, corporations, states/prefectures and countries.

A Hummingbird Feeder in the winter

The only thing I feed in the winter are the Anna’s Hummingbirds who don’t migrate. I have a few plants that bloom in the winter for food, but not enough yet. I put 10-hour hand warmers held with orange knit socks (formerly my knee-high socks from a ‘Velma’ Scooby Doo costume I did a few years ago.) I bring it in at night, so it doesn’t freeze.

How does one top off a snowy winter’s night at home? With a hearty, rustic vegetable soup of course!

And finally,

Don’t Look Up – A movie on Netflix

Sometimes when we don’t know what else to do in a situation, we laugh about it. Don’t Look Up is a movie where a PhD Candidate and her Professor discover that an asteroid is headed for earth. They give the U.S. President months of warning and time to act, but when there is a potential for money to be made, the plan to blow up the asteroid is scrapped in an effort to mine as many resources as possible and then blow it up, but the plan fails.

It’s a dark comedy and not everyone likes a dark comedy with their existential crisis. I think the critics are missing the point. It’s supposed to be outrageous. It’s supposed to be over the top. Its satire based on our societies worst modern qualities. I’m glad people are talking about it, because so often when I think about the problems in the world it often comes down to greed. Greedy people who profit off the environment, who profit off of racial injustices, who profit off of social-economic unbalances. We could have a better world, but will we? I don’t know. I’m willing to fight until the clock runs out.

It can be so frustrating at times! Here’s a story from August that shows how a big environmental impact plan was effectively sabotaged due to greed and mismanagement in Dubai.

From 1 Million Trees to a Tree Graveyard: How Dubai’s conservation Plans went awry – The Guardian

Additional Links:

All About Birds Common Raven and American Crow Comparison:

A brief collection of Raven Tales from Pacific Northwest tribes:

Plant Profile: Douglas Spiraea:

16 thoughts on “Snow Prints and Raven Warnings

  1. I didn’t think that Don’t Look Up was as bad as the Critics said it was, but ho hum.
    I have seen a Raven once in the wild and was thrilled about it – I’ve seen them at the Tower of London but it was much better to see them circling a very tall tree in Devon.
    Happy New Year, Melanie!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Scarlet! You too! I’ve heard people find the Ravens at the Tower of London intimidating. I don’t know if that’s just because of the legend that goes with them or just that they are bigger than people expect them to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Melanie, I saw someone else putting handwarmers around a hummingbird feeder and I was a little confused. We haven’t seen hummingbirds since later August! Thanks for the clarification that their are some that don’t migrate. Well, at least where you are they don’t migrate. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Schingle, It’s been a bit of both. I haven’t been able to keep up on visiting everyone else’s blog either. I’m sorry about that. I wish I could go into torpor with the Black Bears, but the end of the year just gets so busy with the holidays and everything.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed your visit with one too! I was surprised my resident Cooper’s Hawk didn’t get upset when it saw the Raven. Maybe it understood the Raven was just passing through or didn’t want to start a fight with a bigger bird.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. There are no ravens around here – they don’t seem to like the east coast. Plenty of rooks, crows, jackdaws and magpies, though. I’m so glad you got a photo of a hummingbird (which we dont have either. Anywhere). IN THE SNOW! So peculiar…

    Happy New Year, Melanie!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow! So I looked it up, no Hummingbirds in the UK or Europe! Fascinating. I sometimes wondered if the stories of fairies and pixies were invented from the strange flight behaviors of Hummingbirds. Now I know the answer is “No.” You do have Privet hawk-moth (Sphinx ligustri), which we also call a Hummingbird Moth and those are cool too. You will have to make a trip to South England/Wales East Anglia in June-July for a chance to see them as they are rarely ever found in Northern UK now.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Your love of nature is a breath of fresh air. I think as you do, and try to preserve nature to the extent possible. I’ve even been called a “tree hugger” as an insult. I call it a badge of honor! Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lisa! I don’t typically advertise all the little things I do. I prefer to be what I call a “Goodwill Ninja”, but some friends have been encouraging me to share more, which is why I started this blog. I often hug trees to measure their circumference as part of tree inventories. Every tree on my property has been hugged with measuring tape in hand…for practical purposes. Hahaha

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Great pictures. A pity for a beautiful tree but it will grow more. I’m such a carnivore but I’d give that vegetable soup a go😋
    Really enjoyed don’t look up as well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Haha. They go more than well. I don’t mind a salad twice a week, legumes twice, and meat on the weekends 🙏🏾🙏🏾💖

        Liked by 1 person

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