A band of four coyotes came down a pasture ravine; two were run off leaving a pair to themselves.
Two red-tailed hawks, one older, perched in an oak treetop; neither left without the other.
A convocation of three bald eagles, one likely no longer in the family, waited for swimming food to surface in a trout stream below. The two adults then continued to remove snow from their nest as best they could in preparation of egg-laying and incubating the next 36 days. Then brooding, feeding and protecting eaglets will consume the following 100 days.
One of the perennial nests near Decorah, Iowa, now has three eggs and some cold weather to contend with.
Despite record lows, snowfalls, freezing rains and gusting winds, numerous large birds and some mammals are starting next generations.
Turkeys will wait for better weather; deer are approaching the midpoint in gestation, and cardinals are reflection-boxing themselves in basement windows claiming the site as their own.
All animal life, including returning migrants, must eat to survive. Sandhill cranes have found lowland areas where springs soften the frost. Red-winged blackbirds perch on leaning cattails and then look elsewhere.
Deer and turkeys are gathering and devouring in some fields where grain has been deliberately left.
Turkey rafts have found remaining crabapple shrubs fulfilling, too, but burdock fruit burs seem to be more work than worthwhile. Tree squirrels, gray and fox, have turned to budding like grouse, picking on maple flower buds.
It may be the rodents came looking for leaking sap or sapcicles, and finding none took what was handy. But these squirrels will be back. Sucrose, in any form, seems to be a powerful attractant.
While a few bird varieties will be leaving in the weeks ahead, many more migrants have already begun to put down their landing gears. It matters not, too, whether the bluebirds and robins sighted were some who remained or returned. We’ll take them all as a sign of March 20 coming early.
Even now, sunny days bring a little maple sap.
Turkeys, pheasants and soon ruffed grouse, sharptails and prairie chickens will be acting like they own their locations, grounds and leks. It does seem, though, the snow and cold temperatures have impacted the crowing, gobbling and booming desires to a degree, or maybe we just don’t bother to notice.
Jerry Davis can be reached at email@example.com.