Birdwatching - A Seasonal Hobby For All To Enjoy.
Birds Are All Around Us
The Male Baltimore Oriole
Birds Of All Different Shapes And Colors
No matter what time of season, watching a variety of wild birds can make up for the chill experienced especially during a cold and frosty winter morning. And no matter where you reside, wild birds of many different shapes and colors will definitely brighten up anyone's day. Just by observing the brilliant colors that a majority of birds display within their feathered plumages.
The great thing about bird watching, is that you can do it alone, you can do it with a larger group, like the Audubon society For example. An organization who has yearly christmas bird counts throughout the U.S. Or you can experience the endless joy birding brings, right within the confines your own home. Because here, you are still able to observe comfortably, a variety of different species congregate, at a bird feeder placed in your front, or backyard. And probably the best thing about birdwatching, is that it's not expensive to do. Unless you are a serious birder that is.
But to start bird watching on a regular basis and keep a birding list that you can look back at over the years, whether it be on a cold bitter day in winter. Or even during a hot and sultry mid-summers one. And during a given season. Just imagine all the different species of birds you will eventually come to observe, throughout your field trips to parks, beaches and your local state park.
And of course. Let's not forget the old familiar backyard - just to name but a few of many places to see a variety of wild birds. But most importantly keeping a keen eye open to visiting winter birds; helps you to know what birds frequent your neck of the woods, particularly during the colder days of December through March. Which we experience a great deal here in the Northeastnas well as many other areas throughout the country.
During this time of year the regular summer bird visitors that raise their young in the more northern most states, have since long migrated to warmer parts of the country. Like Florida and the Caribbean for example. Not to say that a Northern, or Baltimore Oriole, a bird that normally winters in the extreme temperate areas of the U.S - cannot be seen in a northern state, such as Connecticut for example In mid-winter. It is not impossible to witness, but more improbable to happen.
But just to reinforce my previous sentence. I did have the pleasure of seeing a Male Baltimore Oriole, here visiting my bird feeder on a mid-January afternoon. January 15th to be exact. And this was a first for me. Again something you do not witness every day here in a more northern most area during the winter months. But again as previously mentioned - not probable, but entirely possible.
Male Evening Grosbeak
What Birds Could I see In The Northern most States?
The male evening grosbeak is a good example of a somewhat colorful bird, in comparison to the Baltimore Oriole - another colorful bird I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Again there is a greater chance of spotting an Evening Grosbeak, at a sunflower filled bird feeder in your back yard. And there is even a greater chance of spotting this somewhat stocky Goldfinch look a like, than it is to spot a Baltimore Oriole here on Long Island New York, during the more brutal winter months.
But you have to ask yourself this question as well! "Does a bear leave a pile in the woods?" Good question in comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges isn't it? Because this could work both ways. Something to keep in mind when observing and trying to differentiate a variety of bird species, in different areas of the states.
However in recent years, even a rare visitor like the evening grosbeak has been somewhat scarce to areas in and around where I reside In the northeast. But it is not uncommon to see one of these larger Gold finch look - a - likes in a more extreme northern areaa, , such as Maine, Michigan, Canada and even Minnesota for example.
A winter visitor that is also a summer visitor and year round bird and local to a majority of urban and suburban areas is the Northern Cardinal. The male Cardinal with its brilliant scarlet red body and unmistakable black mask, is a winter and summer bird here in the northeast that many birders are quite familiar with. And you will soon come to notice that they will usually be the last to leave a feeder surrounded by other winter bird visitors. Because cardinals, generally as a rule - feed right up until dusk.
You also will eventually come to learn not only how to identify many winter species by song, or color for example; as you continue to observe the birds in your particular area. But you will eventually be able to identify the seed preferences of many of the same species of bird! which I will also write about in more detail, in a separate article. As your interest for observing the birds around you. And As your curiosity and interest in birding continues to flourish.
You will undoubtedly not only become an experienced novice birder. But you will also gain a greater and deeper appreciation of the environment around you. And what the good lord gave us to brighten up those often weary dreary days of winter and all that goes with it - including the winter blues and blahs!
What Other Winter Birds May Be In My Area?
There are so many different bird species that could be spotted during any given day during the winter months of winter. And the list is too long to be discussed here in this article. However this subject can be contiinued indefinitely, in yet a separate article on this topic at a future time.
A More Colorful Bird Of Winter
Woodpecker's Of Winter
A good field guide to identifying birds in any season is a must for any serious bird watcher
Woodpeckers and Other Winter Bird Visitors
Another common bird that you may see on a regular basis, is a member of the Woodpecker family - the Red-Bellied Woodpecker. This larger of the woodpecker family can be found, usually hanging onto your feeder and using its long bill to poke among the other mixed seeds in your feeder, seeking out that perfect sunflower seed.
Or maybe poking away at a suet basket that you have just placed out in your yard. Red-bellied woodpeckers also will not tolerate the larger scavengers at your feeder. The Purple Grackle and European introduced starling. Are two birds that this woodpecker does not like to be bullied by.
Whatever the case you can be sure to catch glimpse of the red-bellied woodpecker at your winter feeding station. This woodpecker is also a very common year round resident to yards in the north and extreme northern states. During the summer months one is more likely to hear this woodpeckers high shrill like call as it searches for small bugs and other critters hiding within the decaying limbs of a stand of oak trees. Than it is to see it at your feeder during the warmer months.
Remember most winter birds that are also summer residents here in the northeast. And they begin their mating rituals later on in March and right through to early June. The red-Bellied woodpecker is easily distinguished from a smaller woodpecker like the Downy woodpecker. By its unmistakable stocky build, and large red nape at the back of its head. The male Red-Bellied, will usually have a more pronounced and larger area of red in that area, than the female of the species.
Last but but not least I've included one other smaller size sparrow type bird, called the Slate-Colored Junco. This extreme northern visitor that makes Canada and the Alaskan Tundra its summer home, as does the Snowy Owl, can be found usually hopping about on the ground beneath your bird feeder, or on occasion, sitting at a feeder picking away at a variety of seeds, including safflower seeds.
This dark, or slate colored visitor from the extreme northern regions, is a frequent visitor throughout many of the Tri-State areas and other parts of the U.S. The Slate- Colored Junco's distant cousin - The Oregon Junco, is an inhabitant of areas like Washington State and Oregon for example. A good predictor of a brutal winter in the Northeast, besides relying on the farmers almanac, is the early arrival of the slate-colored Junco to areas like New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Even though this is not always the case, I have never the less found this to be a very reliable filled fact over the past couple of years. And I've also seen this dark colored northern visitor show up in my yard like clock work during the past two winters, right around Thanksgiving time to be exact.
And lo and behold - the end result was that old man winter reared his ugly head by giving us two bitterly cold winters in a row, right here in the Tri-State area. Followed by a good amount of snow shortly there after. However the Junco is still an inquisitive and energy filled little visitor - fun to watch in any setting. Whether it be at your local state park, or right in your own backyard.
The Slate Colored Junco can usually be seen in flocks with other small winter birds, such as the Tufted Titmouse, or White-Throated and White-Crowned Sparrows. Another winter visitor, who loves to summer in Canada and other extreme northern latitudes.
If you would like to learn more about the birds that visit your yard and feeders during the winter months, as well as at other times of the year. I would highly recommend that you pick up a copy of Roger Tory Petersons Guide to The Eastern Birds, or Audubon's guide to the Birds of North America.
Two great resources and reference guides to helping the novice, and seasoned bird watcher, to become that much better at identifying a variety of different species of birds throughout various times of the year. Just not during the bone chilling days of winter. Happy birding to all of my readers who love the birds.
The Slate-colored Junco
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