It has been an extreme few weeks in New England that has brought us over 40″ of snow in our area of New Hampshire. Today the snow is coming down steady again… enough that the snowplows have cleared our drive 4 times! We always feed the birds but during severe weather we step up our support as natural food supplies are difficult to find. We have trenches and we shovel out to refill feeders twice a day. The snow is as light as ivory flakes so the shoveling isn’t strenuous. And, amazingly, it’s full of tunnels where the squirrels are searching for wayward birdseed. They pop up here and there like Whac-A-Mole game.
The familiar backyard avian crew frequents our feeders… just in greater numbers in this weather. The black-capped chickadees, the white-breasted nuthatches, tufted titmice, and tons of American goldfinch, pine siskins, and purple finches dine on the tube feeder and the covered bluebird feeder. The noisy finches that number in the twenties also monopolize the nyjer seed feeder.
Northern cardinals, mourning doves, a handful of blue jays, white-throated sparrows and a few other sparrows, a large number of dark-eyed juncos, a common redpoll or two, American finches and pine siskins hop around atop the snow for the seeds we scatter.
Red-bellied woodpeckers, Hairy and Downy woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, the chickadees and titmice go through the suet in no time.
Female Purple Finches
The avian activity provides a lot of excitement and entertainment at our house. Breakfast, lunch, and dinnertime at our table are hives of activity at the window feeder. We enjoy watching the shy, the gregarious, the bullies, the bold, the eat-and-run birds, the noisy, and the birds that like to watch us watching them.
Bully Blue Jay on left
Can’t we all get along?
At least it’s a leisurely hobby that you can enjoy from the comfort and warmth of your home… unlike some of our neighbors who must wait for the snowplow to clear enough snow so their animal friends can have a little recreation. Brrrr….
During the sleet and freezing rain this morning we could see the shadow of a bird hunkered down in the bird feeder that, like everything else outdoors, was decorated with glistening icicles. It couldn’t have been a pleasant morning for anyone but we were curious to know who seemed to find permanent refuge in the feeder.
Soon, up popped a head. It was an American Goldfinch. He was hunkered down eating and staying dry in the shelter of the feeder.
When he saw me at the window with my camera, he hopped to the side. But he didn’t leave. Soon the lure of food and shelter outweighed the fear of me watching him and he returned to his safe harbor snug in the sunflower seeds.
The American Goldfinch can remain in New Hampshire for the winter if there is a food supply. Not to worry, little fella. You came to the right yard.
Everything seems to be springing back to life this week… but you can never be too sure in New England. They tell me it could frost up until the last week in May. On walks, I keep my eyes open for signs that the season really is here. Here are ten signs I saw recently:
10: Star Magnolia in bloom:
9: Bees are buzzin’
8: Azaleas popping:
7. Forsythia in bloom
6. Dogs swimming:
5. Phlox creeping:
4. Canoes and Kayaks on the move:
3. The first goldfinch spotted:
2. Horsetail strobili spreading their spores:
1. And the number one sign that spring has arrived: No more frozen sheets!
The American Goldfinch may look a little patchy at the feeder this spring, but this male is only going through his spring molt. He’ll lose all feathers but those on the wing and tail. When he’s finished, he’ll be the familiar breeding lemon yellow and black. Read more about these finches and their unique twice-a-year molt HERE.