We’ve had an unseasonably warm and snowless winter-to-date in these parts. Until today. The snow began steadily about day-break and is expected to continue through the night. Four inches or more of blowing snow. Temperatures in the lower twenties and high teens. Hey! It’s winter!
One neat thing about the snow is that it covers wild bird food sources forcing them to my feeders. And some birds come around the feeders that might not come otherwise. Take the Dark-eyed Juncos, for example. These gentle little birds breed in Canada and Alaska then winter in the “lower forty-eight”. Commonly thought of as ground feeders, I have only rarely seen them on my bird feeders. It’s clear they prefer to snap up seeds that have dropped to the ground rather than dine at the hopper feeder that seems to make them uncomfortable. Perhaps another feeder style such as a tray would encourage them. But they generally say, “No, thanks,” to my hopper preferring the ground beneath. But today, while they traded their discomfort for food, I saw more Juncos at the feeder than ever before sorting through the seeds for their favored millet.
The Juncos even tried to enter my “suet prison” but just couldn’t do it. The suet prison is a rather ugly little cage that allows only small birds, and generally clingers at that, to feed. (It keeps out squirrels, European Starlings and other undesirables.) Juncos tried to cling to the wire suet cage and propel themselves through the slots to reach the feed. No luck. While they were able to cling for a while, they never were able to thrust their bodies through the wire cage to access the treats inside. Along came the Downey Woodpeckers and Black-capped Chickadees who negotiated the cage wires with ease.
Another bird I rarely see at the feeders is the American Tree Sparrow that breeds along the edges of the tundra in Alaska and Northern Canada then winters in the cooler central and northern U.S. The dark central spot on their breasts and rufous crown identify them. Today they made themselves plentiful at the hopper feeder as well.
My poor Northern Cardinals, who never really seem to enjoy sharing space at the feeder, were in awe of all the feeder activity. They had to tolerate the hubbub in order to get their favorite sunflower seeds.
So today, it was any port in a storm for some wild birds forced out of their comfort zone to accept a bite at my feeders …. much to my delight.
Since tonight’s birding club meeting was cancelled due to the inclement weather, once the birds had disappeared for the night, I took a long walk in the snow. It was lovely!