A bi-level winter season persists in Jackson Hole.

Lots of snow from just above valley elevations to all the higher reaches. Relatively light snow cover below, say, 6,500 feet. (Note: This was the case prior to March coming in with a bunch of snow.) While thinking about some of our four-footed friends such as pronghorns, I wondered how the pine bark beetles are faring. Cold sustained temperatures are supposed to kill lots of them, perhaps slow their onslaught; but temperatures have been mild and cold snaps short. Again. Instead there have been many days of thaw so far. I have to bet on the beetles.

Now then. March 1 was Moose Day in Jackson Hole. A morning on which Nature Mappers, biologists, free spirits and anybody who needs an excuse to be out can sally forth to census the Teton County moose population and distribution. Data collected enters the Nature Mapping database and, importantly, Wyoming Game and Fish Department records. This Moose Day census is only a few years along.

Great idea, great turnout of eager folks (around 60!) and a great snowstorm with icy roads, whiteout conditions — but little good reason for moose to be wandering about to be counted. Any self-respecting moose was likely to hunker down and let it snow.

No comments from the moose have yet been noted, whereas disappointed persons have chimed in. One comment pondered the effect weather conditions have on biological studies (a lot), while another related how far the would-be mapper went on skis that morning (10 feet).

Moose Day 2014 is over; Nature Mapping accepts sightings every day. Visit NatureMappingJH.org.

When a forest habitat is wounded or killed by pine bark beetles, an entire universe is undermined or destroyed. Effects on a single species of life form are difficult enough to document. What about the entire system? What can be done to provide viable havens?

At the March 11 meeting of the Jackson Hole Bird and Nature Club, Joslin Heyward will discuss alternative habitats for wildlife in beetle-infested forests.

This will be a regular monthly meeting of the club, 6-8 p.m. at Teton County Library. Observations, socializing, refreshments, free. Everyone is welcome.

And a heads-up for the annual Nature Mapping Potluck and Silent Auction, this year on March 17. This year in the main lobby of the Center for the Arts in Jackson, 5:30-9 p.m. Good time get-together and a bit of fundraising. Yes, we know it’s St. Patrick’s Day. We’re all about animals.

At the potluck Mark Elbroch of the Teton Cougar Project will provide some delightful insights into the lives of cougar kittens, documented by video footage taken in Jackson Hole. Please come and learn about the new Nature Mapping mobile app, which will make mapping our critters easier and quicker.

Field notes: Sufficient additional photons arriving daily from our sun now, wildlife are beginning to think spring. On Feb. 23, Susie, Louise and Ralph Haberfeld came on a flock of robins, some 50 to 100 birds. “The First Robins of ‘Still Winter,’” they noted. Smaller numbers of robins have been in the area, starting to become a ho-hum observation; they deserve a reception.

Red-winged blackbirds are being seen in familiar wet habitats (one week “early,” Lou Wade). Richard Rue has redwings as well. Juncos are coming back, in small numbers. On March 2, Elizabeth Kingwill welcomed three common redpolls. On May 1, Mary Gerty watched three great blue herons headed to a rookery along the Snake River. Debbie Webb was concerned to see a lone swan visit her pond. Trumpeter swans are on the wing looking for open water. Frances Clark saw three sharp-tailed grouse on Antelope Flats. A flock of what appeared to be snow geese was sighted March 2; Dennis Emory.

Two mountain bluebirds were spotted Monday at Teton County Library, Kayla Michaels.

As of Saturday, a (the) pair of Canada geese have occupied a former osprey nest beside Swinging Bridge over the Snake River south of Jackson. The geese will likely not be displaced by returning osprey. ... What is it with the geese being raised in the Hole? What is it with the osprey fidelity to nest sites in the Hole? Take notes.

©Bert Raynes, 2014

Bert Raynes writes weekly on whatever suits his fancy with a dash of news on nature and its many ways.

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