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Finding bright spots in a bleak winter

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Margaret Plevak | February 16, 2014

DELAVAN — What's your beef about this winter? Take your pick — there's plenty to choose from. Is it the polar vortex with its sub-zero temps that closed schools and froze pipes? Or all the snow pushed to wall-high piles that make your driveway feel more like a bunker? Maybe it's the multiplying potholes or the skyrocketing heating bills and propane shortages. How about just the feeling of a never-ending winter?

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The complaints are numerous, and spring — at least according to the groundhogs that have been consulted — is still over a month away.

But before you reach for the aspirin — and a sweater — remember this weather has affected more than heating bills and the cost of road salt. In the dark cloud of the winter of 2013-'14, a bit of  silver lining shines.

Bird lovers are typically seeing more colorful crowds of goldfinches, chickadees, cardinals and woodpeckers in their backyards these days, thanks in part to those deep snow drifts.

“Birds are not stupid. When it gets cold they move to available food sources,” said Steve Sample, a board member of the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin. “There's been so much cold and snow, bird feeders are much busier than they normally have been this time of year. The snow cover has made food scarcer for them, so they're looking for handouts.”

Sample, who works for an area retailer, said some customers have reported a heavier volume of birds at local feeders. One particular customer, purchasing an 80-pound bag of bird seed, said he was going through 20 pounds of seed weekly.

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