Saturday, February 20, 2021


    February usually means snow. By the time the month starts the hillsides are covered with a couple of feet beneath the hardwoods. Under the boughs of the softwoods there is always noticeably less. Temperatures are cold, often going for days without a temperature as high as freezing and many nights dipping well below zero.
    This February has been no different. There certainly is two feet of snow in the woods, but this year there is no base underneath. The snow is fluff all the way to the ground. This makes excellent roosting snow for ruffed grouse and tough snowshoeing for humans.
    On cold nights ruffed grouse will dive into the snow to take advantage of the snow’s thermal protection. Snow has an R value of about 1, which is nearly the same as wood. Twelve inches of snow has the same insulating value as a two by four wall filled with fiberglass insulation.
    I know of people who have been out snowshoeing and a grouse suddenly burst from the snow and startled everybody. There are stories of grouse diving into the snow and breaking their necks on hidden stumps or logs, but I have never seen that. I’m sure a predator or scavenger would clean up any evidence as the snow melted come spring.
    By the end of February the days are noticeably longer, which is a welcome change. March will bring on bigger changes.   

Ruffed grouse snow roost.
An abandoned ruffed grouse snow roost.

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