Monday, January 7, 2013

Old Man Winter ~ First Week of 2013

Well, the first week of 2013 has been cold, snowy, and icy. Just when we were getting used to it, the roads had been plowed and we could get around once again, Old Man Winter brought us several more inches of new snow overnight.  It doesn't make for the best birding.  Who wants to get out in the frigid cold when it's down to 1 degree Fahrenheit or snowing all day long?  Not this little chickadee!  

It's times like this that I am thankful for my yard birds that are attracted by my suet feeders.  For this first week in my 2013 Big Year it has been the trusty Red-breasted Nuthatches, between 1 and 4 of them visiting the suet each day.  Along with them is a female Downy Woodpecker.  Those were the only birds I had seen until Sunday, when two new birdies came to the suet feeders. I was excited to see a couple of Black-capped Chickadees and a White-breasted Nuthatch in the yard.
White-breasted Nuthatch
These four species of social birds often winter together in small mixed feeding flocks, so it is not unusual for them to be seen together.  The flocks are better able to keep an eye out for predators and can send warning signals to the other members.  They are also better able to find food and are less wary about visiting feeders.  A group of nuthatches are called a "jar" of nuthatches.  A group of chickadees is a "banditry" or "dissimulation".  Woodpeckers are known as a "descent" or a "drumming".  So what are these mixed flocks known as?  A "jar of drumming banditry"?  I get a kick out of some of these collective nouns they come up with for groups of birds.

An interesting fact about the White-breasted Nuthatch is that they are usually quiet during breeding season and in the summer.  But certainly not in the winter and spring.  They have a nasal sounding 'yank-yank' that is quite distinguishable of the nuthatches when you hear it.  The Black-capped Chickadee have their own cute little song... 'Chick-a-dee-dee-dee', hence the name.
Black-capped Chickadee
To sum up my 'Big Week' of 15 birds, (giggle)...                                                                                                            
Sherrie's Lakefront Yard Birds
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Downy Woodpecker
White-breasted Nuthatch
Black-capped Chickadee

Sherrie's Big Year Birds
American Crow
Red-tailed Hawk
Black-billed Magpie
Rock Pigeon
Herring Gull
American Kestrel
Canada Goose
Common Merganser
American Coot
Wild Turkey


  1. It has been too cold to get out there birding that's for sure. I watch my yard birds too.

  2. I was actually thinking about getting out and doing some traveling birding out there, maybe go to see if I could spot the Snowy Owl to add to this years list, or check out one of the birding trails that are nearby, but nope... the weather man reported the snow conditions for the week. I guess I'll be staying in. I did happen to see one larger bird fly over today, but it was too far away to I.D. and I just saw a second or two of it. Maybe some wild turkey or quail will come by and surprise me? Til then, I will enjoy my four yard birds... the nuthatches, chickadees, and downy. The are all super sweet little birdies.