A mild start to 2019

January 10, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Happy 2019! 


Bright days have alternated with gray, now the new year is fully underway. The first days of the year have been mild. Every day has warmed above freezing and last Monday was near 68 degrees. It has been a bit slow with species showing up, yet I've had interesting birds. It's always a good day when I see a Red-breasted Nuthatch! 


Red-breasted Nuthatch 1-3-19Red-breasted Nuthatch 1-3-19


Of course, the White-breasted Nuthatch is a resident bird and a nester in our area. So, how does one tell the difference? I had them both at the peanut feeder one day. Putting a composite photo together, it's easier to see the size and color differences. I think of the White-breasted as wearing a tuxedo, with a full black crown, gray back and white breast. It does have some rusty coloring around its vent. That species stays a bit longer at a feeder each time. The Red-breasted Nuthatch has the full cinnamon-colored breast, and is sharply marked with the black crown, white eyebrow and the distinctive black eye line. This compact little bird is very quick moving.


Nuthatches 1-4-19Nuthatches 1-4-19


Another bird that has been slow to show up this winter is the Pine Siskin. On Wednesday, 1-2-19, I finally saw 4 birds. Since then, I've seen up to 9 individuals. They flock together with American Goldfinches. Seed-eating finches also need to drink a lot of water! So, they stop in at the bubbler or fountain often.


Pine Siskins 1-2-19Pine Siskins 1-2-19

Pine Siskins 1-2-19Pine Siskins 1-2-19

Pine Siskin at the fountain 1-5-19Pine Siskin at the fountain 1-5-19


Another bird who frequents our winter landscape is the Brown Creeper. We've been seeing one nearly every day as it works its way up tree trunks looking for insects or perhaps a bit of bark butter.


Brown Creeper 1-1-19Brown Creeper 1-1-19


This may be the first time I've seen a Hermit Thrush in January. I usually see them in April, sometimes as early as February. Perhaps the mild weather is the reason this cousin to the robin has been around. It enjoys holly berries, too. 


Hermit Thrush 1-4-19Hermit Thrush 1-4-19 Hermit Thrush with holly berry 1-4-19Hermit Thrush with holly berry 1-4-19


A bird that is very common in many yards, though not native here, is the House Sparrow. Some years, I never see a single bird. Our yard is too wooded for them, thank goodness. They are considered pests, using up resources for our native birds. On Friday, 1-4-19, I was a bit surprised to see a sparrow fly in close to the bubbler, then it joined two other males at one of the feeders. So far, they haven't been back.


House Sparrow 1-4-19House Sparrow 1-4-19 Northern Cardinal and 3 House Sparrows 1-4-19Northern Cardinal and 3 House Sparrows 1-4-19


Some evenings, we thought we were hearing the Barred Owl. So, we'd mute the music or tv but the bird wouldn't call again. Yesterday, our suspicions were confirmed. However, since we were away, I can't count the bird until I've seen it or heard it myself!


Barred Owl fishing at 5:17 pm on 1-9-19


Now, we're under the first Winter Storm Watch of the year. There's a saying: "Bad weather brings good birds!" Well, that has all of us backyard birders wondering what species might show up!


For a look at all the bird images for the new year, begin here:  2019 Birds at Shady Oaks











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