When I was a kid, we called Dark-Eyed Juncos “snow birds.” Until I started bird watching later in life, I thought that was their actual name. To us, seeing a snow bird was a sign. It meant that it was going to snow, leading to snowmen, snow forts, saucering down the side hill and a day off of school. I suspect this childhood joy may still be a little part of the reason that I still love these little birds today. Even today, when I know that birds don’t cause the weather, I still feel joy when I see the first of the juncos and their winter pals, the White-Throated Sparrows arrive in mid-fall. Here is what I do in my yard to make sparrows happy during the winter.
Usually I’m not thrilled when huge flocks of birds descend on the yard, displacing our “regulars” from feeders and birdbaths. But when fifty-six (at least!) Cedar Waxwings visited, I was happily excited. Unlike big flocks of Common Grackles, European Starlings and Brown-Headed Cowbirds, this crowd was not aggressive towards the other birds and didn’t displace them. They didn’t want anything from the feeders after all. They didn’t mess with the other birds and the other birds didn’t mess with them. They were just there to drink.
Winter backyard birds can be intense. Food sources can be limited so winter bird feeders can be very busy.
The most active and interesting days are often not the bright beautiful sunny days but stormy days. This is when birds are eager to eat as much as they can to keep energy levels high. Yesterday’s winter storm brought us just such a day with really interesting feathered visitors and activity, so I have pictures and stories to share with you.