|Cardinal (male) and Finch|
It is at this time that I really enjoy the winter landscape. The birds are like blotches of paint on a white canvas. Although hard to see in this picture they really pop against the white snow.
I have a large population of Mourning Dove that are usually busy below the feeders picking up all the remnants but when the ground is covered in snow they fly up to my open feeder on the back deck. When it is cold birds fluff their feathers to trap heat and slow down their metabolism to conserve energy. This dove was doing just that perched on the back deck trying to keep warm.
|Mourning Dove roosting on railing|
The Goldfinches no longer carry their bright yellow plumage. They now adorn their winter colors of brownish green with only a hint of yellow.
I do love the bluebirds. They are most active in my garden in the winter probably because their natural food supply is limited. Their meal of choice is insects, fruits and berries found in the wild. But since insects become inactive under 40 degrees and berries are covered with snow and ice or have been stripped by other birds they will come to the feeders. I see them at my suet blocks and I put out a feeder filled with peanut hearts just for them.
|Eastern Bluebird (female)|
To keep them in the garden they need to be enticed to stay with the right housing and food. Their houses have specific dimensions (8" tall x 5" wide x 5" deep with a 1.5" hole 8" from the base). I have one that sort of fits the bill. Not quite the right dimensions but the bluebirds have attempted to nest here; however, they got chased out by another winter guest.
For the past three winters a flying squirrel has nested in this bird house. The first year we unintentionally chased it out thinking we were cleaning out a bird nest. Given that they are nocturnal this was a rare opportunity for me to photograph it as we surprised her out of her home.
|Southern Flying Squirrel (Glaucomys volans)|
The Downy Woodpecker will also come to the feeder when food sources are hard to find.
It even perched on the shepherd's hook for a time.
|Downy woodpecker (male)|
The birds of prey were out and about as well. I see red-tailed hawks flying around my garden regularly but they are difficult to photograph because they are usually too far away or in flight to get a good shot. This red-tailed hawk was staked out on a tree near the woodland garden in pursuit of a meal.
Typically birds find most of their food in the wild but during the extreme cold of the winter months with short days and long freezing nights they appreciate the help of backyard feeders. I do my best to accommodate them so that they will hang around and I can enjoy their beautiful colors all through the winter.