During the summer our yard is filled with Bluebirds, Killdeer, Swallows and Finch. Now that the summer is over, we’re starting to see some of our favorite fall/winter birds. Here are three of our favorites.
We don’t see many woodpeckers here. Ours is a fairly new subdivision (< 10 years) and sadly all but a few of the trees were stripped for construction. Almost all of the 80 families here have planted new trees, but they’re still babies in the grand scheme of things. So we’re just now starting to see woodpeckers regularly. And this guy has taken a liking to our (empty) bluebird house. He’s even brought along his girlfriend on occasion. Mainly he just pecks around the hole a bit and moves on.
Dark Eyed Junco
This is our very favorite winter bird. This is a male — the females are much paler in color. They prefer to eat on the ground, and are amusing to watch as they scratch the ground with their feet to uncover seeds and maybe a random bug or two. They make a cute little “chip” sound and their white tail feathers appear triangular in flight. I so wish they’d stay and nest here! Unfortunately Canada is their summer home. But, we’re thrilled to have them in large numbers most winters.
If you followed our Bluebird Diaries during the summer, you’ll remember a few sparrow-induced rants. Please allow me to clarify. There are many species of very kind, friendly, non-aggressive sparrows in the bird kingdom. When I swear like a sailor about the sparrows tormenting our bluebirds, they are House Sparrows, a non-native bird brought to the US from Europe many years ago still wreaking havoc today. In fact House Sparrows are not sparrows at all, but rather a member of the finch family. They really do give native sparrows a bad name! The White-Crowned Sparrow is a migration-visiting bird in our area and they are adorable.
We love their distinct stripes and they love our feeders. Like the Dark Eyed Juncos, they prefer to eat on the ground and will also scratch for their food. They don’t nest here, and are most prevalent during spring and fall migration. At certain times we can count over a dozen in our yard at the same time!
These are just a few of our favorite cold-season back yard visitors. The Blue Jays are also coming around more often and we expect to start seeing Cardinals and Titmice as soon as the woods lose a bit more of their natural food sources. We’ve stocked our feeders with their favorites and we’re looking forward to an interesting winter birding season!