Jahnavi Shah

PhD Student, Planetary Science

Snowy Updates

Hi all!

With the second snow-fall of the season taking place today, I felt it an appropriate time to write about some winter updates. I’ve generally been a fan of winter – I enjoy the cold, crisp air – and consider it my favourite season. However, given the rising COVID-19 cases and more stay-at-home directives, it will be a tough winter to get through. I’m aiming to try my best to stay active (physically and mentally) to stay sane and productive.

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is something I experience (at least to some extent), as many others, every year. It’s a type of depression believed to be caused by a lowered level of exposure to sunlight, common during northern winters. Usually, I spend some time outside in daylight while commuting to campus which helps, but that won’t be possible this time around. So one way to get some light, I’ll have to establish a routine to spend some outdoors (it’ll probably take the of a walk). In addition to daily walks, I’ll have to set up a system of work-free evening activities because I pretty much have low motivation to work (or do anything else) past 5PM (close to the time it gets dark outside). This might be a good time to enjoy some reading and painting time. I haven’t gotten all things figured out yet, but I’m trying to consciously think about ways to fight/cope with some of the symptoms of SAD.

Winter Backyard Birds

I’ve mentioned in a previous post that I got into bird watching over the summer and set up feeders in the backyard. I’m taking some time now to think about winter birdwatching and what that might look like. Some common winter birds in Ontario include: dark-eyed juncos, Northern cardinals, cedar waxwings, blue jays, woodpeckers (an assortment), white- and red-breasted nuthatches, black-capped chickadees. Most of these birds, I’ve had the opportunity to observe over the summer/fall. Some other winter birds are (which I have not yet seen): Northern shrike, red crossbill, and evening grosbeak. Based on a quick web search and advice from a friend, a good way to attract some winter birds to the feeders is adding suet (for shrike), sunflower seeds (grosbeak), and conifer seeds (crossbill). I’m going to look into where to find these (and the financial feasibility of it), and hopefully have it set up for the new year.

A side/random/fun update:
I’ve been paying close attention to squirrels since I got bird feeders, because I’ve been busy scaring them away. Recently, I captured a video of them in the yard and noticed that they have bulked up quite a bit, so thought I’d share here. I’m not really sure if they hibernate in the winter, I feel like I see them around all year round – makes me wonder why they are bulking up then?

Stay warm and safe!

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