Although I’m looking forward to getting back out to the garden both for growing things and for watching the birds that migrate through our woods, there is a pleasure at this time of year in seeing what birds decide to make our yard a home for the winter. There is a cast of regulars like the Tufted Titmouse, the Cardinals, the Black-capped Chickadee, Blue-jays, Downy & Red-bellied Woodpeckers that are with us pretty much year around.
But then, as always happens when you take the time to observe, there are surprises that you didn’t expect. The Eastern Towhee is always a delightful sight with it’s red eyes and striking colors. It tends to be shy bird in the underbrush that I see rarely at best. I didn’t realize that it actually sticks around to enjoy our wintertime.
Recently I saw postings from Jan at Thanks for Today and Randy at Randy & Meg’s Garden Paradise that mentioned Pine Siskins. It made me pause and think because I had seen birds like that and assumed they were either female Goldfinches or House Finches. I took another closer look the next time they appeared and sure enough we have Pine Siskins as well.
We often have had the White-breasted Nuthatch stop in both winter and summer. As they walk upside down on the oak tree they are quite easy to pick out from the crowd. They will also use the feeder to grab sunflower seeds in the winter.
What was a pleasant surprise for us this year was the first sighting of the Red-breasted Nuthatch. This little guy is smaller than his cousin and he causes a double-take the first time you see his masked face at the feeders. Their normal year-round range is north of us but they do come south for the winter.
We’re expecting more snow tomorrow, so I will fill the feeders again, put out the suet, and keep watching for some sign of warmer weather in the future.