Bird Conservation photo

It’s been cold, and it is now even colder. In the East, anyway. Another polar vortex had dipped our way. Usually a polar vortex is content with “Arctic” cold, but this one is packing the Russian stuff, “Siberian” cold. It’s so powerful that Customs and Immigration aren’t even trying to inspect it before it crosses our border.

“Polar vortex,” incidentally, refers to the big chunk of cold air that typically spins counterclockwise over the Arctic. But if a strong enough high-pressure system runs into it, it can squeeze big “fingers” of the vortex south. Which is what’s currently happening. The polar vortex is giving us the finger.

As I write this, Lexington, Kentucky, is expecting a high of 5 degrees. And tonight it’s going down to -12. If you live in North Dakota, that’s a warm spell. But in Kentucky, that’s serious cold. These people have windows in their houses—and, worse, heat pumps, which work fine if the temperature is above freezing, but not under these conditions. In a polar vortex, Kentuckians are better off huddling around a pie plate and burning dollar bills. I hate to think how this may affect the bourbon harvest.

This weather will be tough on wildlife, too. Birds live close to the edge in just about any weather. Severe cold can really knock them back. If you can, put out some suet or birdseed—or a hot cup of coffee. I saw a Starbucks ad today showing a cardinal in snowy conditions, holding a to-go cup that looks like the bird equivalent of a Venti, and wearing a down vest and fur hat, The copy reads:

“Spring Forward? How Fricking Far Did You Move It?”

Good question.