A group of hardy nature lovers gathered for this walk on a cold, icy and overcast Sunday. Chuck Henrikson, our experienced leader from the UW Dept of Comparative Biosciences, helped participants to spot the few birds out in the open, and also taught us why feathers help birds to fly and keep warm. He had brought feathers from the tail of a turkey and down feathers, and even some hybrid feather with down toward the bottom of the shaft and interlocking barbs and barbules present in flying feathers on the top part. These barbs and further branching barbules keep the feathers smooth and windproof. When the individual barbs come apart for some reason, the bird will reconnect them by preening. The downy feathers close to the bird’s body have no interlocking barbs, instead they are fluffy and trap air in spaces and keep the bird warm. When we held a down feather in our hand, it felt like a little oven, warming the hand. Chuck compared the barbs in the feathers to the edges and crystals in snowflakes that interlock in intricate patterns. Flurries were conveniently falling to demonstrate this point.
On the way out to the Point, we spotted a bunch of birds in the trees near the second fire place, toward the bay side. A Brown Creeper, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a bunch of Robins and others, were foraging and flitting from branch to branch, all puffed up to keep warm. We were delighted with the variety of birds we saw. The group went on, mainly looking down to navigate the slippery trail and no other birds were sighted. Thank you Chuck, for leading and teaching us, and thank you to Kennedy Gilchrist, our hosts of the Friends. Gisela Kutzbach was able to catch glimpses of the birds with her camera.
6 species sighted
Red-bellied Woodpecker 2 Black-capped Chickadee 2 Brown Creeper 1
Downy Woodpecker 2 White-breasted Nuthatch 2 American Robin 5