August 11, 2022
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Northland Nature: A surprise at the bird feeder

By on January 1, 2022 0


Last fall some of the arrivals were migrants, but now in winter they have settled in the regulars; here every day. (During unusually mild periods they are less likely to arrive; apparently they find their meals on their own elsewhere.) Every day I see black-capped chickadees, red-breasted white-breasted nuthatches, downy, hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied and blue jays. Often a half-dozen to a dozen turkeys come out of the woods to dine at the feeders as well. Although the tits can be up to ten, the other birds are usually in pairs.

I find bird watching on winter days not boring. They adapt to climatic conditions with ruffled feathers or by eating more. Chickadees, nuthatches and blue jays go for the seeds while woodpeckers devour the tallow; often with the help of tits and nuthatches. This animal fat is rich in energy necessary to face the cold. Birds are a pleasure to watch and although they don’t really need our documents, we might need them during the winter.

I saw various finches; the area’s pine grosbeaks, pine siskins and redpolls and large woodpeckers often frequent the nearby woods, but they have not yet chosen to come near our feeders. Hope that will change now in January.

Almost every year, especially in December, we have the visit of an unusual bird at the feeder; normally only lasts a short time, but happens anyway. A few years ago, we saw a House Finch and a Starling appear during a snowstorm. Another time it was a cardinal. None stayed very long. These birds are common to some bird feeders in the region, they are not present with us. Two years ago, a varied thrush; a relative of the robin, a bird more common in the Pacific Northwest, came to the feeding site, again for just one day. And recently, we were surprised to see a twinkle join the others at the feeder.

Sparkles are a kind of peak. Bigger than the three guys that have been at the feeder lately, they’re about a foot long. While the other peaks are mostly black and white, the sparkles are mostly brown with black spots on the underside. Red markings on the head, often with a black “mustache”, give an interesting appearance. Two other note colors help to recognize the bird. The feathers have yellow stems and when the wings or tail are outstretched this color is easy to see. In flight, a white spot on the rump appears.

Sparkles are a common resident of Northland in the summer. Being as tall as they are, we see them regularly. Traveling in small groups that often go to the ground, the sparkles are easy to see during the fall migration; especially in September. A few can be seen in the following months, but in December at our latitude they are rare. Like the other unexpected bird sights, this one did not persist.

The feeder flicker and other surprises, despite their short emission, still add a lot to the feeder viewing. We have a lot of winter to go; and much more to see at the feeders in the coming weeks.

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Larry weber

Larry weber

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