Big And Small

    I was out in the woods, on assignment, for about six hours on Monday. It was one of those quintessential November days — sky the color of a ragg wool sock, the spruces and firs looking somber. Nice. A gentle snow fell all day and hardly accumulated.
    I was out with a trapper, checking his traps. Overhead, the occasional raven sawed across the sky, looking for another deer gut pile, I suppose. Around us, chickadees flitted from tree to tree and nuthatches called their nasal yank-yank-yank.
    Sort of cool, I think, how these avian species at both ends of the size spectrum have figured out how to eke out a living through the northern winters. Ravens, big and thick and tough. Chickadees and nuthatches, tiny and hyper.
     Of course, there are plenty of birds in the mid-size range getting by out there, too. Downy and hairy and pileated woodpeckers. Gray jays. Ruffed grouse. Many others.
      We tend to think that everything has migrated south, that the woods are quiet now. And, compared to June, they are. But lots of birds are getting by.
       Local affiliates of the National Audubon Society will be holding their Christmas bird counts in coming weeks. Watch for the announcements in "Outdoors Notes" of our Sunday Outdoors section, or go to www.audubon.org ("Birds and Science," then "Citizen Science") to get a listing of counts in our area. Birders are happy to have new birders come along, and it’s a good way to learn a few new species.