Warmer temperatures are known to increase photosynthesis in the higher latitudes and Siberia has been getting greener. This isn’t working so well in boreal North America where stresses such as fire, pests and droughts have made things browner overall.

Jupiter and Saturn are getting closer to one another (from our vantage point). They’ll be at their closest on December 21st, so stay tuned.

On some birds the contour feathers have what’s called an afterfeather, a little fluffy plume from the same follicle as the big feather. This provides extra insulation and is especially common in grouse.

The tufted titmouse at our feeders (they get taken in at night) has now been joined by another. They rarely used to be here but in the last few years have become reliable companions.

Most evergreen perennials are low to the ground, for good reason. Winterberry, pippsissewa, partridgeberry, and goldthread are all in the carpet family.

Still no snow on the ground. Rain-soaked brown leaves cover paths but in the woods mosses and liverworts in many shades of green brighten things up.

Today’s science news: The very tips of owl wing feathers turn airflow inward in a complicated way that reduces turbulence and allows for silent flight. A team of aeronautical engineers think that this feature could be used in future wing design to reduce aircraft noise

The beavers here are hard at it. Their dam isn’t getting much attention but the food supply is and deforestation proceeds apace. Too bad that beavers like black ash way more than buckthorn or barberry.

The now-leafless trees reveal how much water tree leaves soak up. Puddles don’t dry up at all these days, unlike a couple of months ago.