"I love what you've done with your yard and I love walking by - you always have so many birds!"
...a neighbor who made our day last week
This year in the midst of the pandemic, many neighbors have walked by. Twin girls, maybe 6 or 7 years old, collected the blossoms of the coral trumpet honeysuckle as excitedly as if finding fairies. One girl proudly showed us her new camera, waving it in the air, saying she wished she had butterflies like ours in her garden. The youngest neighbors have grown from being carried or pushed, to pushing, pedaling and running on their own. These are a few of the positive things we try and remember about this year. Those small ways of connecting have helped us all.
December continues with the usual suspects along with less typical ones. We have several Northern Flickers around, coming in daily. A female seemed to thoroughly enjoy a good bath last Wednesday. A Blue Jay took a turn a couple days later. A female Red-bellied Woodpecker has been coming in to look for bark butter and seed.
Pine Siskins have been consistently coming in, though daily numbers have fluctuated. On Saturday, 12-12-20 we had 40 birds, our highest ever count. They were at all the finch feeders with a mix of fine black oil sunflower chips and thistle seed. Fourteen of them had a pool party at the Bubbler. They are pretty tame, and I was able to get this photo and a video of them. You can hear their unique buzzy "brrrzeerr!"call.
Rusty Blackbirds have been coming in small groups on different days. They'll forage and visit the water features.
Just as I was about to start another batch of cookies one day, I saw a large flock of blackbirds drop down into the swampy thicket. I was very lucky to be able to get out onto the deck before they noticed my movement. They were so focused on foraging, that my presence didn't bother them at all and I was able to get these videos. It was a mixed flock, mostly Rusty Blackbirds 50-60, a few European Starlings and Common Grackles, maybe 30 or so total, along with our FOS Red-winged Blackbirds, numbering at least 30 that were on and under the feeders. It's pretty easy to tell the Rusty Blackbirds from the Red-winged.
The garden beds may look dull to some in our Missouri winter, but they really are a treasure trove of food for the birds. Take a closer look and the seed heads of Purple Coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) sparkle in golden splendor. The goldfinches and siskins had been visiting them before they moved onto those of the Beebalm (Monarda fistulosa). As the seeds drop, juncos and sparrows, like this White-throated Sparrow will work the areas under the plants.
The native plants in and around the yard also provide much needed cover for the birds to shelter in from the cold. On Tuesday, 12-15-20, the northwest winds were brisk. I spotted this Song Sparrow in the Coral Trumpet Honeysuckle near the pond. It finally came out to forage again after a rest, then went to join another. After an overnight snow, a Mourning Dove took a little winter nap on a perch near the bubbler.
Now, from both of us and the Merry Brown Creeper,
we wish you all a healthy and happy holiday season!