Winter came and went without so much as a blizzard this year. Which was ok by me. However, it was the most gloomy winter I have ever seen. Days upon days of no sun. We still have snow on the ground and the rivers and streams are high. Water is slowly receding but the frost is not out of the ground yet.
As far as bird survival through this winter... it was easier for the grouse. Most of the time we had enough snow for the birds to burrow into the snow. At one point up at dog camp we had over two feet. However, we had very few days where the temp was below 0 F in the morning.
Temps below 20F and no snow are difficult for a grouse. Temps that are below the 20F with no snow means the grouse needs to speed up their metabolism in order to stay warm enough. With very little fat going into the winter on a grouse...there is not much fat left to spare. A cold winter and no snow can deplete fat reserves rather quickly.
At the time of this writing, I am finding grouse in the usual places where I expect to find them and also the lone males. Hens are still grouped together and have not separated yet. The woods are wet with standing water and muck boots are mandatory. The wind still has a bite to it but we are starting to get some sunshine and just today I heard "The Herald of Spring" the robin. The red wing black birds have been here for over a week and the geese are starting to fly north.
The woodcock are here but there is still snow and some of the nights are getting down to 13 F yet. So they are having to eat. something else besides worms. I have found chalk and also seen quite a few.
Overall winter is giving way to spring and the drumming has not started yet. We still have too much snow on the ground. Frost laws (road restrictions) are on and the roads are very soft and travel can be touchy in some places. You sure do not want to get over to the shoulder or your tire might sink in a foot or more.
There is still ice on the lakes with some water showing on the edges... but the water is starting to seep onto the top of the ice and I figure in the next two weeks it should sink and the lakes should be clear of ice and we should start to see some ducks etc. and maybe the return of the loons.