Saturday, February 23, 2013

Winter Birds 2013

The cold weather this year has caused our feeder to be far more active, with a much greater variety of birds, then last year when we barely had winter.  Right now the finches of all kinds have discovered our "buffet" and are just about eating us out of house and home.  I filled the tube feeder this morning and it is already about a quarter gone.  

I've been trying to get some pictures and have finally been a little successful, though not of everything I'd like to get.  And with the magic of the editing feature on iPhoto, some of these pics are actually easy to identify the birds.  For each decent pic, I threw out about ten blurry or bad ones.

This is a pine warbler, which any more is a constant visitor.  At first it appears to be just another goldfinch, of which we seem to get hundreds any more - until you realize that it is a beautiful golden color, not the duller color of a winter goldfinch, and it does not have the same wing markings as a goldfinch.

Here is the pine warbler on the suet feeder, with a Carolina wren on the opposite branch.  You can see the yellow so much better here.

Looking past the "bird buffet" out to Mike's shop.  I thought this was a pretty picture of a beautiful winter day around here.

Chickadee at the bird bath.  We moved it around to here from the back of the house, where it's stayed the last couple of winters, and have been amazed at how much it's been used.  Bluebirds, who don't eat from seed feeders, have come to drink also.

 This male cardinal is always the beauty of a winter bird feeding station.

Mourning doves at the birdbath.  A couple of times I've looked out and seen doves that were definitely not mourning doves - a big surprise as these are the standard dove for the southeast.  Turns out what I saw are called Eurasian Collared Doves, an invasive species that is now moving through this area.  They weren't even in the book I used when we spent a lot of time studying birds when we were first married.  

And this is my favorite.  The pine siskin is an eruptive species that is not predictable from year to year, but with the cold air this was predicted to be a good year for siskins.  Here they are getting thistle seed out of one of two sock feeders hanging from our trees.  You can see the yellow stripes on the wings of the top bird - sometimes they are easy to see and sometimes not.  If you can catch them in flight, the yellow on the inside of the wings is visible also.  In addition to the yellow, they are slightly smaller, more heavily streaked, and have a smaller bill and a notched tail, than female house finches.

The last time I saw pine siskins was when we still lived in the little house on Paris Mountain--23 winters ago.  So having them back this year is a real treat.

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