We prepared for the freezing rain with grippers on our boots, kept feeders filled and water features flowing.
Birds knew it was coming and tanked up!
Before that storm, on 1-16-24, an immature male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker and an European Starling shared a moment at the bubbler. The starlings are not usually so accommodating. All of us who feed birds dread their persistence at driving away the native birds.
Two days later, within fourteen minutes, three individual sapsuckers came in. The first was this immature female with the white throat.
The second bird was this immature male with the red throat.
Immediately, an adult male made its presence known!
The two males began a chase around the small white oak.
"Where'd he go!?" The stunning adult male took over.
This encounter made me think of all the sapsuckers that I've photographed since the first of the year and I put together the composite below.
White throats? Females. Red throats? Males. All the immature birds are in different stages of transitional plumage. Some have more red on the crown, more black on the chest, more yellow on the belly. The only adult bird is the male in the center. This species is just fascinating to study in winter!
Like the sapsuckers, there have been several Yellow-rumped Warblers around, too.
Usual suspects, like the Red-bellied Woodpecker and Northern Cardinal are enjoyed daily. Late afternoon sun shows off their brilliance.
Tracks in the snow show that birds have been drinking at the stream bed where there is open water.
On Saturday morning, 1-20-24, I was in the breakfast room when I saw a flash of red to my right as I heard a Pileated Woodpecker. "Dan, do you see it on the railing?" Yes, he did! I had to back out of the room slowly with my handheld camera, moving the tripod would have been too much commotion and disturbed the bird. It was a good plan.
What a spectacle! It's just a glorious thing to see "The Boss!" We've had four different Northern Flickers, four Downy Woodpeckers, two Hairy Woodpeckers and other various birds taking suet. It was a thrill we both shared to see this largest of North American woodpeckers come in to feed. The Pileated Woodpecker is just a stunning bird.
That was not the only surprise that day. Since early November, our Haikubox has been recording American Tree Sparrows. "Ha, good luck seeing that one, show me the money!" I have only photographed this species in two prior years, 2014 and 2022, in February with snow cover. Well, I was upstairs and saw some birds moving around in the garden, and I spotted one.
By the time I got the camera in place, it had moved to cover in the Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum). It took most of the afternoon finding it again in the garden and out in the lawn area, where I'd scattered some seed.
The next day, I convinced myself there were two. One was near the pond and another out much further in the garden under the Beautyberries, (Callicarpa americana) in the leaves. A needle in a haystack to spot, for sure! In Birds of the World, it says, "Over snow, known to beat weeds with wings and then fly to snow surface to retrieve seeds." Saw one again yesterday, so hope they have found their winter home.
The flickers are back, this female is a regular. American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins were at the bubbler bathing in the icy conditions with the freezing rain yesterday. Brrr! Conditions improved with temperatures above 35 degrees all night. It's nice to have a break in the cold!