Our Window on Nature

. . . exploring the world around us

Outdoor Ice Cubes

Filed under: Critters — Lowell Christie -- February 2, 2007 @ 12:04 pm

Ice CubeToday may be Groundhog Day, but regardless of whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow this morning, I think we’ll probably have a bit more cold weather before Spring arrives.

In case you’ve missed out on this exciting bit of nature lore, Punxsutawney is a village in Pennsylvania, and each year at this time the local groundhog, Phil by name, comes out of his burrow to make a weather forecast. If he sees his shadow, it means we’ll have another six weeks of cold winter weather, so Phil heads back to his burrow. But if it’s cloudy this morning, the rest of the winter will be mild. Sounds about as accurate as a few weathermen we’ve known.

Last month, with some unseasonably cold weather, the water we put out for the local animals froze solid — that ice cube up above was about four inches thick. When a resident squirrel kept licking the ice to quench his thirst, it reminded us of the importance of water for wildlife.

But be careful how you keep that water liquid. Each year some well-meaning people try to have water available in their backyards but poison the animals by diluting it with anti-freeze. Or they will use glycerin, which can also lead to fatalities.

If you’d like to see a commercial solution, follow the link at the bottom of this post.  Or play handyman and run an outdoor electric cord to a light bulb covered by a clay flower pot. Place your bird bath or water container on top of the pot and it will keep the ice from forming during all but the coldest weather.

Or do as we do — make a morning ritual of saying hello to the birds as you scatter some seed and then chip the ice from their water. It’s a nice way to start the day.

As for Punxsutawney Phil, we just got word that it was cloudy in that part of Pennsylvania this morning. No shadow. That means a mild rest of the winter. The local residents have been keeping track of these predictions since 1887, and Phil has been correct about 39% of the time.

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