“Bird” Feeder Survey, December 2018

In the snow belt, harsh winter weather and snow cover trigger aggressive feeding by resident wildlife. Bird counts and squirrel activity at artificial feeding stations reach an annual peak, a phenomenon that is most apparent in the midst of a snow storm. At various times throughout the day, chaos reigns as dozens of birds and mammals converge at feeders, providing wonderful opportunities for “wildlife watching” …and photography.

Chickadee and Downy Woodpecker feeding on a block of suet and grain.

Red-breasted Nuthatch at rest near feeders on a frigid winter morning

Blue Jay evaluating its feeding options

A pleasantly plump Gray Squirrel eating …. because it can!

White-breasted Nuthatch, an upside-down favorite

Red Squirrel digging for grain under a layer of fresh snow

Squirrels are notorious for their creative gymnastics around elevated “bird” feeders

Perhaps our most popular winter resident, cardinal sightings are down this year, and we don’t know why

Woodpeckers (Hairy and Red-bellied) squabbling over access to a suet block.

The Tufted Titmouse is expanding its range northward, influenced by artificial feeding and global warming

Photos by NB Hunter. © All rights reserved.

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The Winter Solstice

“We cannot stop the winter or the summer from coming. We cannot stop the spring or the fall or make them other than they are. They are gifts from the universe that we cannot refuse. But we can choose what we will contribute to life when each arrives.”     – Gary Zukavteasel16dec168647e5c8x10

“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!”             – Thomas Wentworth Higginson

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“Kindness is like snow – it beautifies everything it covers.”     – Kahlil Gibran

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“There is a privacy about it which no other season gives you. In spring, summer and fall people sort of have an open season on each other; only in the winter, in the country, can you have longer, quiet stretches when you can savor belonging to yourself.” ― Ruth Stout

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“It is the life of the crystal, the architect of the flake, the fire of the frost, the soul of the sunbeam. This crisp winter air is full of it.”     – John Burroughs

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“When snow falls, nature listens.”     – Antoinette van Kleef

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“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”            ― John Steinbeck

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“Winter, a lingering season, is a time to gather golden moments, embark upon a sentimental journey, and enjoy every idle hour.”     – John Boswell

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Photos by NB Hunter; taken in Central New York in December, 2016 © All Rights Reserved.

Bird Feeder Survey 18Jan2016

Backyard wildlife activity continues to increase in response to frigid temperatures and accumulating snow cover. This, the second of my “bird” feeder posts, features a few more of the regular visitors to supplemental feeding sites around the house.

At least 6 Blue Jays feed aggressively and often, throughout the day.

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Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata; 1 of 2)

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Most active in early morning and late evening, cardinals tend to visit the feeders throughout the day as the winter weather becomes more severe.

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Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

The Titmouse is an irregular and unpredictable visitor. I usually see just one, and it rarely lingers for more than a few seconds. A dainty eater, it darts in, grabs a seed, and poof! It’s gone.

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Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor)

Tracks and traces in the snow tell the story of resident cottontails. They’re mostly nocturnal, sneaking into the feeders under the cover of darkness.

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Eastern Cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus)

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.