"The Arch of Orion": Winter Birding

"Autumn begins my season of hawk-hunting, spring ends it, winter glitters between like the arch of Orion"
-J.A. Baker, The Peregrine

 The above quote from J.A. Baker goes far to capture my thoughts about wintertime. I first started watching birds in the winter.  Because of this, I have always equated the season with birding at its purest and most exhilarating.  Despite the excitement of the spring migration, I've always been deeply stirred by the birds that remain throughout the coldest months, braving wind, snow and  freezing conditions.  Cardinals, woodpeckers, chickadees, sparrows...these winter birds are among the most familiar, yet I never tire of seeing them.  

As I move through winter, my eye is also drawn to small details that aren't always visible during other seasons. Without their colorful blooms, wildflowers instead display their stark skeletal frames. 

While it's tempting to spend the winter indoors as much as possible, I find myself feeling pulled outside. The light is more brilliant, the air more clear, and the birding more profound.