Weather in the Foothills

“The February sunshine steeps your boughsNEW Weather in Foothills ART WEB
and tints the buds and swells the leaves within.”
~ William Bryant 1794-1878, editor of “N.Y. Evening Post,” poet

Only a poet’s description of nature can do it justice. The above quotation,  “…sunshine steeps your boughs…” sounds lovely, but what precisely does “steeps” mean?

Considering the time period in which it was written, including Webster’s definition, here it is: saturate in some absorbing influence (the sun). Interesting …     The sun is definitely working well with the birch and apple trees in our yard as buds and green leaves are beginning to show on their branches. As predicted though strong winds hit the foothills last week leaving streets and yards strewn once again with tree debris. Spring is still more than a month away, but nevertheless there are early signs of its arrival.

The great migration is on. When viewing the wildebeests in East Africa, ours seems insignificant, but in the science world it is just as magnificent. With three bird baths and plenty of under-eve nesting places, several varieties of birds make a quick stop or stay to raise a family. Abby is keeping close watch over the yard, trying to figure out how best to use her Retriever abilities. Seriously, this is an interesting time of year and many animals are on the move back to there northern summer homes. Along the way they stop to refuel and rest, and that is when we get to see them.

So, how do birds know when to migrate and what triggers bud and leaf growth on trees? Could it be weather or climate related?

The timing of a tree’s leaf-out and budding has several determining factors. Temperatures during the spring and winter, duration of cloudy or overcast days, and moisture content of the soil are all considered as are warmer days at winter’s-end. Our birch trees are greening up nicely, while the liquid ambers are getting ready. The weather has definitely given Mother Nature a jump start into spring and eager nest builders seem to agree.

Not all birds migrate. But the ones living in severe climactic zones do. Their timing is closely linked with the changing seasons. Besides the milder climates, birds are attracted to locations with a good food source, a safe nesting place and areas that provide longer hours of daylight. Landforms, air masses of differing temperatures and humidity, and even sensitivity to the earth’s magnetic field help with orientation and guidance during the birds’ journeys.

Most of our spring visitors (birds) come up from the south to escape the hot and humid summer weather of the tropics, whistling, “California here I come!”

And the weather will continue on a similar note, with winds and temperatures nudging 80 for Thursday and Friday. Then back to highs around 70 and lows in the 40s this weekend and into next week.

Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at

February Rain Total – .28 inches
2011-12 Season Total-  6.72 inches