Two days before the blizzard, I was on my way to the bus stop, and this particular bus stop is a good little place or birds. There's a tiny city park--really, just a wedge of green between two busy streets--with lots of trees, including some nice spruce, plus some tall boulevard and yard trees. It's a popular corner for nuthatches, and there's often woodpeckers, too. So when I heard a tap tap tap, I assumed it was one of the usual downies or hairies, until I looked up, and saw a big Pileated Woodpecker, less than 20 feet up in one of the big maples outside an apartment building. It was close enough that I could see it was a girl (boys have a red stripe on their face like a mustache) and could see the glint in her eye when she cocked her head to stare back at me. But mostly she was unconcerned, and kept pecking away while I stood there and watched, and the wood shavings drifted down like snowflakes.
A day before the blizzard I saw a robin in somebody's yard. I guess a few hang out in Duluth all winter long, but this was the first that I've seen since the flock in Hartley a few weeks ago. The yard in question has some nice conifers to snuggle down in, and a Mountain Ash tree for robin snacks.
The day of the blizzard, yesterday, the buses stopped running before I got off of work, so I had to walk home, a little under two miles, in the snow and fierce wind. I stopped in the woods behind the farmer's market, by Chester Creek, to take a break from my grim trudge and seek shelter in the trees for a few minutes. In the woods there were about forty black birds, mostly grackles, with a few starlings mixed in, and a handful of crows. Or ravens. I can't tell by silhouette alone, and all the birds were eerily, completely silent. Now and then one of the nosed around the bark looking for grubs, and a small group of them relocated to a different tree when I entered the woods, but mostly they were all hunkered down, black clumps against the swirling white sky, waiting out the storm.