Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Late Winter Fruits - Fairbanks, Alaska

The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow,
And what will poor robbing do then, poor thing?
He’ll sit in the barn and keep himself warm,
And hide his head under his wing, poor thing
                                      16th century English poem

I saw my first robin of the year today. It was about zero degrees outside today and I was dumbfounded to see poor ole Robin Redbreast sitting on a branch when I was out walking. I think the robin was dumbfounded too—probably wondering what in the heck he was doing here. (And I didn’t have a camera with me!)

He is definitely too early to get the worm, so he will have to be content to fill up on last fall’s berries. We have a chokecherry tree in out front yard draped with hundreds of cherries. Every spring the robins survive until green-up by gorging on the desiccated fruit. We also have a hedge of high bush cranberries and enough berries usually survive the winter to provide some nourishment for the robins.

 I took these photos about a week ago. You’ll notice the black chokecerries are all dried out, but the cranberries are still plump. High bush cranberries are relatively unaffected by freezing. In fact, one of the best times to go picking them is after a few frosts, when the leaves have dropped from the bushes and it’s easy to spot the fruit.

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