Wilson Post Blogs
Our Feathered Friends - October 5
by Karen Franklin
Well, as I sit here and watch my hummingbirds fight over the feeder at my back kitchen window, I am reminded that their time here is limited. Especially since the weather has started to cool off a bit. I get amused watching them fight over the juice, not realizing they could all drink to their hearts content and I would refill it every time! One little female has even positioned herself on a branch right under the feeder so she can "protect" it. Unfortunately, she is greatly outnumbered and fighting a losing battle! While she is busy chasing off one "intruder" two or three more swoop in for a drink only to be replaced by more when she chases the next round away. I'm sure most of you are experiencing this same phenomenon at your house. My two young children keep asking me why they can't just share!
While I greatly enjoy the hummingbirds, I'm very excited by cooler temps and the return of our winter visitors. My children get so excited when they see the dark-eyed juncos have returned. They know winter and possible sledding opportunities are just around the corner. I personally look forward to seeing my White-throated Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers. About three years ago I had my first White-throated Sparrow show up. Last year I had three to four, plus their mates. Well, I assume it is the same one, plus friends. I wish I could band them to know for sure! I've only been graced with a single Yellow-rumped Warbler for the past two years. He is hard to miss with the bright yellow patch on his back above his tail. It is like he carries the sun around with him in the cold/cloudy winter months.
We get too many juncos to count… I think they like the safety of my raised/protected deck in the backyard. Anytime a threat comes near they all dart under the deck for safety and then slowly return when the coast is clear. I greatly enjoy “winter birding” because I can generally put out good seed and see a wide variety of feathered friends right outside my picture window. And if we get lucky with a good snowfall that number doubles or triples! Although I have lots of fun and gain a lot more from my actual birding trips with Ray, it is hard to beat sitting inside a warm house drinking coffee and enjoying the birds from the inside.
Some more of the other winter visitors you could expect see are: American Tree Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, Cedar Waxwing, American Pipit, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, Golden-Crowned Kinglet, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Swamp Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, White-Throated Sparrow, White-Crowned Sparrow, Dark-Eyed Junco (Snow bird), Lapland Longspur, Purple Finch and Pine Siskin.
I have not included in this list the wetland birds or birds of prey. Although there are several interesting winter birds in those categories as well…for example The Sandhill Crane and the Northern Harrier. (One thing I have found handy is to take little tabs and attach them to these winter bird pages in my bird book, so when they start showing up I can easily flip to those pages.)
Don't forget to leave your hummingbird feeders out for a couple more months. Depending on the weather we can get migrating hummingbirds for quite some time. I usually leave mine out till late October or early November depending on how mild the weather is. And the best "hummer juice" (as my daughter calls it) is made at home with four parts water to one part sugar - or four cups water to one cup sugar - with no food coloring!
One site I love to use for reference is www.allaboutbirds.com – The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website is an excellent place to go for information. However, don’t forget the easiest place is actually our local expert, Mr. Ray!!! And be sure to shoot him an email or find him on Facebook to let him know what is flying around your yard!