The chase is on!

We’re still in the grips of winter with far below average temperatures.

While the February average is in the high 30’s here in Chicagoland, we’re still experiencing bone-chilling minus-zero air temperatures with wind chills in the -20’s.

Snow mountains from the blizzard that dumped around 17 inches on us a few weeks ago still weigh down the garden greenery.

Birds actually warm themselves in the heated bird bath in this bitter cold.

American Robin bathes in a heated birdbath in winter cold.

American Robin bathes in the heated bird bath while his buddy watches for intruders.

At times like these, it’s hard to keep the pool all to yourselves.

I imagine one of the Robins saying to the other, “Just ignore them and maybe they’ll go away.”

Indeed, the European Starlings seem to be trying to look just as disinterested.

European Starlings share the birdbath with American Robins on a cold, snowy day.

European Starlings share the bird bath with American Robins on a cold, snowy day.

Do wild birds observe Ground Hog Day?

A Gold Finch and a House Finch see their shadows against a mostly-frozen bird bath in the cold February morning sun.

How many more weeks of winter?????

A Gold Finch and a House Finch try to find open water at a frozen-over bird bath.


But wait!

What’s that I hear?

The song of a …. Northern Cardinal!

The chase is on!  I spied one male Cardinal chasing another from tree to tree at dusk.

During the day I hear them calling.

In spite of the frozen earth, days are lengthening and the first signs that birds are beginning to defend territories awaken hope that warmer days are ahead.

A Northern Cardinal provides a colorful counterpoint against the frozen landscape.

A Northern Cardinal provides a colorful counterpoint against the frozen landscape.

My Black-capped Chickadees are going to begin looking for nesting spots.

It’s time to place their nest box in the pine tree.

A Chickadee nest box is ready for placement.

A Chickadee nest box is ready for placement.

And for those of you waiting patiently for the Ruby Throat Hummingbirds ….

keep an eye on their 2015 migration map!

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19 Responses to The chase is on!

  1. Sounds like Spring is just round the corner for you. Re the RT Hummers, one has just been sighted on an Abaco Cay. They aren’t vanishingly rare, but they are very rarely seen for long enough to ID! So a photo is a bonus… RH

  2. Jim in IA says:

    I’ve never seen a chickadee house. Are they different from a wren house?

    The h-birds are hitting the coastline now. Take it slow you guys.

    • The size of the house and entry hole of the wren house is smaller.
      A wren can enter and build a nest in a chickadee nest box, but a chickadee can’t even gain entry to a wren house.

      • Jim in IA says:

        Since the wrens come back later, the chickadees get possession. Do they challenge each other later?

        • Unfortunately, yes. I’ve not had an issue with wrens trying to destroy my chickadee nests, but I have had them destroy bluebird eggs in a nest I was monitoring. They pierced 3 bluebird eggs with their bills and tossed them out of the box smashing them on the ground below. Then they just start placing their tell-tale sticks in the box on top of the other bird’s nest.

          I’ve seem bird cam pictures of wrens actually tossing hatchling bluebirds out of a nest.

          I have had wrens try to build in an empty chickadee box, but I won’t let them. I just take down the box for that season.

          Wrens can be quite destructive to other species. And when you’re trying to encourage a species coming back from the brink like our Eastern Bluebirds …. it’s very disheartening to see.

        • Jim in IA says:

          That is amazing. I knew wrens were aggressive. But, to toss out eggs and young is a surprise. I love having them at our back deck singing all summer long.

  3. beingbodeker says:

    I’ve been hearing the Cardinals sing here in Iowa, too. It’s like seeing a light at the end of a dark tunnel…and that’s coming from a girl raised in the Northwoods who loves winter. This cold is just really starting to outlive it’s welcome. I love that you have robins! We never see those at our feeders in winter.

  4. Love the pictures! My mother, in New England, has been keeping an eye out for the birds who really don’t seem to put out by the snow.

  5. It’s coming. Be patient! 🙂

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