The other day I saw a shivering winter goldfinch on the feeder. Today his whole extended family and all their friends showed up too! Their little drab olive green bodies mobbing the black oil sunflower seed. They flitter and twitter, never sitting still even when perched. There must have been over 40 of them. It makes me smile when the winter flock shows up. All the fuss and muss and cheery noise. It’s like a part on the bird feeder. The cats sit in the window enraptured as well. I know they will stick around for a few days, then move on to somewhere else, but for now, they are here and they bring happiness on their wings.
Early this morning, I filled the black oil sunflower seed feeder before heading off to work. Upon arriving home, I noticed the snow covered walkway to the front stairs was completely trampled by tiny bird feet. I looked around, the whole area around the feeder, the paving stone at the bottom of the stairs, the path, and even a large portion of the driveway was covered in small bird prints. There were so many of them, tracks on top of tracks, that individual prints were completely indiscernible. Also, the black oil seed feeder is empty! The Goldfinch flock has definitely been here! When I finally came inside, my husband asked if I had seen all the bird tracks in the snow. He was amazed at how a group of small birds could make an area of snow look thoroughly trampled. Twenty or so tiny birds fluttering around non-stop for a few hours until the feeder is empty will do that. I imagine their twittering and rustling. I have not seen the flock yet, but they are obviously here.
This morning when looking out the front window to see the early birds on the feeder, there was a small drab dark olive colored bird with a wing bar. Oh cool! The winter Goldfinch flock is here!
Many years ago when I first saw a winter Goldfinch, I spent over an hour pouring through bird guides trying to figure out what it was. I unsatisfactorily settled on some sort of gnat-catcher because of its color and size. But many other factors did not fit, such as time of year and what it was eating. The mysterious birds stayed a few days and then left. Later in the spring, I saw more of them, but now they were in various stages of changing color into their summer plumage. Aha! Not gnat-catchers, but Goldfinches!
Every winter a flock shows up for a couple of days, cleans out the feeders every day they are here, then moves on to somewhere else. It is a joy to receive the annual visit of the winter Goldfinches. Spring is still a long way off, but these little birds know how to party in the bird world, even in sub-zero temperatures apparently. This morning there is only one little finch, but I suspect it will have plenty of friends very soon.
This time of year, the bird feeders stay out, no pesky bears to destroy them in the night. The cats love it because at first light when our little feathered friends wake up and need sustenance after the long cold night, the feeders are waiting for them. The cats sit in the front window, whiskers twitching, tails swishing, eyes bright, haunches tense, and making mewing and clicking noises in the back of there throats. The birds and red squirrels taunt the cats too, by hanging out on the rocking chair backs not more than a few inches away, but an still endless eternity through the glass window pane. This morning there were about three inches of fresh snow piled up in the feeder tops, the air must by completely calm as every surface is piled delicately with pure white glittering snow, ready to topple and drift to earth at the slightest disturbance. I can see every tiny spot where a dainty chick-a-dee or junco has perched. There are birds sized indents on the porch railing, the feeder stand, and the branches of the shrubs in front of the porch. The birds are flitting around, noisy and busy, every burst of wings sending a few more snow flakes on their way toward the ground. Its almost like a dance, twittering birds, fresh floating snow flakes, and cold blue early morning light seeping into the world.
Back to see the doctor… Bronchitis again… Another antibiotic… Yuck…
Later, sitting (dozing I the rocker) on the porch watching birds on the feeder, and the grey and white puffy clouds grow and gather, enjoying the peace and quiet of an afternoon in the hollow. Suddenly, all the birds explode away from the feeder and off the ground completely disappearing in a furious flurry of feathers and alarm calls. A much larger bird silently swoops down in dangerous blur of brown and white. It narrowly misses the feeder, then swing up on fabulous strong wings to land with empty talons on a nearby tree branch. It is small for a hawk, graceful and elegant, speckled brown on its white chest, and dark bands on its tail. It only pauses for the briefest moment before its majestic wings open again and it smoothly glides out of sight into the forest on the hillside behind our house. Later I looked it up in our Peterson’s Bird Guide book. It was either a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-Shinned Hawk. Although I got a good look at it, I wasn’t concentrating on the subtle distinguishing characteristics needed to tell them apart, and the both live here. So, I get to keep my marvelous hawk encounter of the mysterious kind!
Sitting on the porch in a rocking chair enjoying the peaceful afternoon, watching the chipmunks and chickadees on the bird feeder. Suddenly a large brown blur whizzes by, the animals instantly scatter and hide. The blur banks sharply sideways, furiously flapping its wings, narrowly missing the feeder and then the porch railing. Right behind the sharp shinned hawk are two black birds, squawking their displeasure. They chase the hawk up into the maple tree by the driveway, where he tarries only a moment to catch a breath between the hectoring blackbirds, before dipping off the branch swinging low over the yard, then gaining altitude and flying out over the back hill out of sight. Once the hawk goes higher up and away from the yard, the blackbirds glide back and the as the tranquility returns to the neighborhood.
I knew they were back, having heard their melodious call in the woods and seen fleeting glimpse of bright orange in the trees. As I was walking through the living room I happened to glance out the front window and there one was, perched on the bird feeder eating orange delight suet. I stood transfixed, having never seen on eon the feeders before. Bright orange breast, black head and black and white wings, pecking serenely at the gooey suet cage. He stayed a long time eating his fill as I watched him. Oh spring rejoices and summer is close on its heals!