Now that you have you bird feeders out and active the winter fun begins. My feeders are outside my living room window where I love to recline on my settee and have breakfast while watching Canada AM every morning. There is usually a steady stream of the most common birds…..especially the Blue Jays and Chick-a-Dees. For fun you can take a wig manikin, put a wide brim hat on it and attach it to the back of an outdoor chair and put black oil seeds along the rim. After a few days, remove the manikin head, sit in the chair, and put the hat on with black oil seedsin place and get someone to take pictures of the birds eating off your head. Every once in a while you will get a treat by seeing one of the next most common birds…..in order as follows:
The pine Siskin looks like a sparrow but note the yellow wing markings.
The Redpole is known as an erruptive species. Some years you get none and neither do any of your neighbors. And then a year comes along when there are dozens on every feeder.
The Chipping Sparrow has a pale buff breast with no black spot.
The American Tree sparrow has a black breast spot and white wing bars.
The Red-breasted nuthatch will fool you at first. It looks like a Chick-a-Dee but upside down and bold. They call all year round and are more abundant that people think. Listen for a beep-beep-beep-beep cadence.
The Red-winged Blackbird usually makes an appearance in spring. They arrive with the Grackles and Starlings. The females will fool you.
The White-throated Sparrow is one of the most beautiful of the sparrows. They are silent in the winter but one of the most distinctive calls in spring. I never tire of hearing them.
The American Crow. I would discourage anyone from feeding crows. It might be fun in the winter but in the spring they will sit outside your window and demand to be fed. Earlier and earlier as the days lengthen. Do you want to feed them at 500AM.
The Crossbills (this one is the Red Crossbill) are cone seed feeders. In winters of poor cone production or during ice storms they will visit feeders. The are often mistaken for Purple Finches or Pine Grosbeaks but look at the bill. Its like a pair of scissors.
The White-winged Crossbill.
Next weeks post will be the “Oh my Gosh” birds. Rarer and really special.