We've all heard wives tales about the bigger a squirrels tail the colder the winter; the higher the wasps nests the more snow, etc. Most people don't hold any store to these tales but I figure there must be some truth in them somewhere so every year I watch the animals and try to divine the winter forecast based on their size, actions, colour, and anything else I can think of that may indicate something to someone.
As usual I've been watching the birds and squirrels for the last few weeks. The animals are getting fatter than normal this year. We've had more visitors to the feeders than normal, and they've been coming earlier than normal too. For example the goldfinches started arriving in July and August. They don't normally show up in mass until the end of August.
All the squirrels, sparrows, chickadees, nuthatches, and blue jays have put a lot of weight on this year and seem voracious. I filled the feeders Saturday and by Monday everyone of them was empty. This is unusual in that the back two feeders usually last at least 4 days in high summer which is our busiest feeder time. The goldfinches not only emptied their nyger seed feeder, which is almost never empty, but they stripped the seeds from the cone flowers and black-eyed-susans. Very unusual behaviour.
So based on my observations I believe we are in for a long, cold winter.