Thursday, November 18, 2010
It is still a month or more until the winter solstice and the official change of seasons. But fall has faded away and winter is upon us. The trees on our property shed the last of their leaves this week and the raking is done. One of our daughters always phones me at work when the first snow flakes start falling. (for some reason it tends to happen during work days) Today I got the call..."Mom, it's snowing!!!" I know the west and midwest of the continent have had significant snow accumulations already and our turn will come soon.
We have a Mountain Ash tree in the backyard which had a bumper crop of berries this year. I came home from work one afternoon to find dozens of robins and starlings on the ground and in the tree. They stripped every piece of fruit in a short period of time. Robins are one of the earliest birds to arrive in the spring and there are still a few of them in local wood lots this week. A few may stay in protected areas through the winter.
Starlings look quite smart in their winter coats but unfortunately they show up with too many of their friends. I took the picture below in September when they were starting to gather in large flocks, officially known as murmurations. Fortunately this murmuration was not in our yard or I would have felt like I was in a scene of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.
There are some winter birds I would like to see in the next few months. Evening Grosbeaks are reportedly visiting feeders within three hours of our home and they would be life birds for me. I have seen a female Pine Grosbeak, but not a male of that species. Perhaps winter finches will be irruptive this year. In the meantime, the feeders are up and our usual visitors will entertain us until the seasons change again.