The ground has been solidly snow covered for weeks. As a result, traffic at bird feeders is heavy, with birds often emptying our feeder in less than a day. It’s especially tough on birds that feed on the ground, like Cardinals,
and Dark-eyed Juncos.
In our yard, a flock of Goldfinches moved back and forth from the feeder to the ground below,
joined by a trio of Pine Siskins, visiting us for the past few weeks.
Birds take advantage of the food we provide, but what else do they eat in winter?
Just as in the warm months, insects are still an important part of their diet. As soon as there is open ground, birds begin tossing and probing leaves, looking for overwintering insects to eat.
Watch for Chickadees and Titmice searching branches of trees and shrubs for eggs, chrysalises, caterpillars and other insects sheltering there.
Chickadees investigate curled leaves clinging to branches, knowing that a leaf might be a winter insect shelter.
Nuthatches travel down tree trunks probing bark crevices, looking for a winter insect snack. Brown Creepers cover the same territory in the opposite direction, eating what the Nuthatches miss.
Downy Woodpeckers explore both branches and tree trunks looking for food.
This Pileated Woodpecker
found a branch that promised her an insect reward, probably Carpenter Ants.
Signs of spring are beginning to show. Look closely at the plumage of male Goldfinches and you’ll see some splotches of bright yellow, the beginning of their molt to summer garb. This White-throated Sparrow is already sporting its summer suit, in spite of the snow!