Backyard Birds, Snowstorm Number ??

White-throated Sparrow in a snowstorm

White-throated Sparrow in a snowstorm

When I opened the shades yesterday, there was already about 7 inches of new snow on the ground and the air was thick with swirling, heavy wet flakes. I confess my first thought was, “How beautiful!” (Go ahead, call me crazy – you wouldn’t be the first!  But it may mitigate your assessment a bit to know I didn’t have to go out.)

The birds were already up and foraging for food. The area surrounding our feeder was a very popular spot, and remained so all day long throughout the storm.

Goldfinches and House Finches at the feeder

Goldfinches and House Finches at the feeder

Goldfinches and House Finches were the most constant visitors to the feeders, perching in the trees near by in between snacks.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

Goldfinch, with male House Finch in the background

Goldfinch, with male House Finch in the background

Chickadees and Titmice darted to the feeder to get their share, with Chickadees tossing rejects on the ground for the grateful birds feeding there.

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee, with lunch

Carolina Chickadee, with lunch

A few of the ground feeding birds, like this White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

grew impatient with having to wait for food to be tossed down to them and decided to go directly to the source themselves.

White-throated Sparrow eating at feeder

White-throated Sparrow eating at feeder

Even a few Dark-eyed Juncos also attempted to use the feeder.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker watched for his opportunity,

Red-bellied Woodpecker, male

Red-bellied Woodpecker, male

then used his gymnastics skills to get to some food …

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker at feeder

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker at feeder

and bring it back to his mortar-and-pestle-like feeding spot on a near-by tree.

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker preparing a meal

Male Red-bellied Woodpecker preparing a meal

His female partner

Red-bellied Woodpecker, female

Red-bellied Woodpecker, female

elected to join the ground feeders.

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker foraging on the ground

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker foraging on the ground

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker successfully foraging on the ground

Female Red-bellied Woodpecker successfully foraging on the ground

She seemed tentative at first, staying only a few seconds with each trip, but eventually she became more comfortable both with the process and her ground feeding companions.

White-breasted Nuthatches and a Downy Woodpecker joined the party a bit later in the day.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch on Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

White-breasted Nuthatch on Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

A Blue Jay stopped by briefly, turning his face to escape the wind.

Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Dark-eyed Juncos and Goldfinches browsed for seed at our Purple Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia), one of the few additional seed sources not buried in snow.

Dark-eyed Junco feeding on Purple Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia) seeds

Dark-eyed Junco feeding on Purple Giant Hyssop (Agastache scrophulariifolia)seeds

When not actively feeding, many birds took refuge in the relative safety and shelter of neighboring Black-haw Viburnums (Viburnum prunifolium) and White Pines (Pinus strobus).

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Junco

White-throated Sparrow in White Pine with House Finch in the background

White-throated Sparrow in White Pine with House Finch in the background

The weather is pretty benign today, but clouds are starting to move in. Ready for the next round?

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

7 thoughts on “Backyard Birds, Snowstorm Number ??

  1. Call me crazy. I love looking at the snow, too. It has provided me with some evidence of how much the birds like my Viirginia Sweetspire. There were lots of bird tracks under the drooping branches. Interestingly, there were none under the Sweet Clethra which is right next to it. My feathered friends’ work of art in the snow also offers me further enjoyment and interest during this unusually snowy season!

  2. Lovely, Mary Anne. Thanks for another wonderful blog.
    I read an essay about Japanese art of the four seasons in which the writer stated that snow is the “flower” of winter. This certainly has been the case this season, with glorious puffy snow-flowers everywhere. Even ice has formed into fern-like buds. But your blog shows that Birds are also flowers! Thanks again!

    • That’s a wonderful way to think of snow! Winter offers so much beauty, things that we don’t notice in the growing season, like the skeletons of flowers, fruits, tree bark, mushrooms, lichens, and winter buds, which always seem like the promise of spring. We just have to learn to stay warn enough to get out and enjoy it!

  3. Pingback: Reasons to Love Winter | The Natural Web

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