Sunday, January 18, 2009

More Winter Birding

American Tree Sparrow

We are now well into the last half of January. My bird count is at 52 species and I hope to find 60 by the end of the month. Larry set the challenge and Kathie has listed the people who are participating in this recent post. I may not have started if I had known how much snow and cold weather was coming.

Chickadees are always welcome

My visits to Lake Ontario were very helpful in increasing the numbers of birds seen, but I thought I would feature a few birds found closer to home. My husband is trying hard to help me and asked if chickens and turkeys would count as he could take me to the farm where he gets our eggs. No, I am counting wild, not domesticated birds.

European Starlings

Some birds walk the line between wild and domestic in my view. These starlings near Breslau were all over an apple tree that was covered in frozen fruit. And some Chickadees are so accustomed to humans that they will dive-bomb trail walkers hoping for hand outs. I never tire of their antics and cheerful call. With the recent cold weather I have found that even shyer birds like Juncos are coming closer to people for food.

House Sparrows continue to be a nuisance at my feeders, but these handsome American Tree Sparrows are always fun to watch. This one followed me as I dropped seeds behind me in the snow.

Large flocks of Snow Buntings are hard to miss as they fly about from field to field in the country.

Snow Buntings

They are hard to approach and it takes a lot of quiet and patient waiting before they will come near a parked car.

One of my husband's coworkers told us about a Snowy Owl that was hanging around his father's farm just north of the city. A number of our friends have driven out to see it and have posted excellent pictures of the bird. (see here and here)

Snowy Owl on top of the silo

Our Christmas Bird Count included 11 Snowy Owls in this area. On Saturday my husband drove me to the farm and sure enough the young female was sitting on top of the silo and had no intention of coming closer. A snow storm was moving in and it was very cold so we did not stay for long.

Young Female Snowy Owl

Here is a picture of the same heavily barred bird taken by a friend who was lucky to see it near the road. It looks quite black from a distance but was easy to identify with binoculars.

Twenty-three of my January birds visit only in the winter and will return to the far north in the spring to breed. So I am glad for the challenge to look for them in the brief time they are here. Tuesday evening an Owl Prowl is being held at a local conservation area. I may have to go to reach my goal.


  1. Good luck with the winter bird list.I hope you reach that 60 mark.

  2. Great pictures of such a wonderful lis of birds!!

  3. I loved going on the birdie was fun.. I liked how the sparrow followed you when you dropped the seeds..
    i would love to see snow buntings in huge flocks like that...and the snowy owl is on my list of birdies i need to see...

  4. Beautiful shots of the birds! I don't think we have snow buntings here.

  5. We have lots of snow and can barely keep up with the seed - lots of quail.

  6. Fantastic photos - love that glaring owl! I was fortunate enough to have chickadees land on my fingers several times when I lvied in Calgary. It was an amazing feeling, those tiny cool dry "reptilian" feet!

  7. Ruth,

    The photos are lovely, as always. I especially like the photos of the snowy owl. We have an owl around here that I hear at night, but haven't been able to get a glimpse of it. It seems to stay well hidden during the day.

    I really need to take a drive out to where my grandparents lived and see what kind of birds are out there. I meant to do that this winter, but haven't been out much. I'm still trying to get rid of this sinus infection. It's just hanging on.

    Enjoyed my visit. You've counted a LOT of birds this month. All I've been seeing around here are sparrows, blue jays and cardinals. They are beautiful against the white backdrop of snow, but would love to see some chickadees, red polls and other birds.

    Have a great week.

  8. You have quite a list for the month Ruth...I am beginning to like the house sparrows as they weren't nearly as much trouble as the flock of starlings that found me..I love the photos of the tree sparrow...

  9. Lucky you Ruth! What a wonderful variety of winter friends. :c)

  10. Your winter bird list is very inpressive! I hope you make your goal.

    Great pictures.

  11. Anonymous7:46 am GMT-5

    What a lovely collection of birds. I'm sure you will make your 60 count, if not pass it.

    On Saturday I took my nieces to the Chickadee spot for hand feeding. And once again they were willing to be fed. One thing I did notice was that the Chickadees preferred eating out of hands that were bare as to those that had finger mitts on. My step-daughter waiting patiently for one to land (15 minutes). As soon as she took her mitts off they flocked to her. Do you think it has something to do with the warmth coming from the hands? I was also thinking it may have something to do with the color of the mitts? It was still fun and I'm enjoying this winter birding adventure.

  12. Really great shots ... of birds and of deep winter. I think its the birds we see all the time that mean more than the single year spots ... or maybe not. It's probably a combination.

  13. I hope you make your goal Ruth. I found out that there was a snowy owl spotted near our route home from Buffalo yesterday, but we didn't happen to see it.

  14. Great photographs, Ruth. You are on your way to a great year of birding. I'd keep the farm trip as an option for that last minute surge at the end of the year.

  15. Ruth- I will have to have a lot of luck to reach 60 birds, but it is fun trying. We have so much snow that is makes birding a challenge!

    Lynne- Thanks

    Dawn- That little Tree Sparrow on the ground is one of my favourite pictures of the season.

    Kerri- They are not city birds. They prefer dirt roads and corn fields.

    Jean- I would love to see quail. You had posted a picture last year. Amazing!

    Deborah- The Chickadees are light as a feather with no digging claws. If you don't look you can hardly feel them on your hand.

    Mary- Most owls are nocturnal, but the Snowy is active during the day. The Great Horned Owls are fairly common in our area and are noisy at night. They are getting ready to breed in February. Hope you continue to feel better.

    RW- There are plenty of starlings around but I have never had them at my feeders.

    Jayne- What is the January count at your feeders? Must be impressive.

    Kallen- I was wondering if I could work in a visit to the Niagara River this month. That may be the only way I will hit 60.

    Cheryl- I have never tried feeding the birds with gloves on. I am glad your stepdaughter finally had success. If you see any birds not on my list, let me know!!

    Bob- I do appreciate the regulars but some of the unusual birds I have seen have been most interesting.

    Jan- They can be hard to spot. You can see how small the owl looked on the silo. I had to use binoculars to see if it was a bird.

    NCMW- I is supposed to be -22C tomorrow, but if it is not windy I likely will try the owl prowl.

  16. I give you credit for getting out there to find some birds.-Kind of makes the month move along a little faster I think.-I hope you reach your goal of 60 birds.-Of course you''l have to raise the bar higher for next year if you reach your goal.


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.