The current cold spell, – 3deg C, has brought birds flocking to our garden. About 15 Varied Thrushes have joined the Dark-eyed Juncos feeding in the shrubs and flowerbeds of our front yard. While there have been a couple of thrushes here since fall, the main influx waited until the rowan berries had experienced a good frost, which must make them sweeter. Ever since then, the beautiful birds, known by some as the Alaska Robin, have been gorging themselves on the little red berries. They also really like the few windfall apples left on the ground, and don’t seem to be fussy whether they are Mackintoshes or Cox’s orange pippins.
Several Song Sparrows spend the winter with us, enjoying the feeders and lurking under the camelia bushes, but this week we have had a lovely chocolate brown Fox Sparrow scratching at the ground there too. Other regular birds include a House Finch or two, four or five Black-capped Chickadees, 2 brightly-coloured Spotted Towhees and a red-shafted Northern Flicker. Two little birds made an appearance in the cedar tree while I was on the phone, and I am pretty sure they were Hutton’s Vireo, as they moved rather slowly and sluggishly along the branches. That species breeds in the area but I haven’t seen them much in winter. Alternatively, they might have been Ruby-crowned Kinglets, more commonly seen on migration in fall and spring, and usually more active, fluttery little birds. Without being able to grab binoculars and check out their distinctive bills and wing feathers, I couldn’t make a firm identification.
It is fun watching all the bird activity in the yard, while sitting inside in the warm.