Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter Companions

  When the snow flies and the garden is sleeping soundly under a white blanket, birdwatching becomes a diversion for us.

White throated Sparrow

 There are no flowers to photograph and no herbs to preserve, no weeding or mowing or planting to keep us busy so  we haul out the bird feeders,  fill them up with seed and sit back to wait for company to arrive in the yard.

Purple Finch

 The birds are faithful winter companions and,  having no children at home or pets to spoil, we treat them well.

Dove and Francis
 Over several years we've discovered that certain feeders and certain seeds attract the smaller, prettier song birds while the bigger more annoying birds stay away.

Purple Finch
 We use a feeder which discourages the bigger birds (and squirrels) by closing when there is too much weight on the platform.  We only offer sunflower seeds,  safflower seeds, niger seed and suet in special feeders for woodpeckers.

Downy Woodpecker
  The smaller birds reward us with hours of pleasure with their antics and songs.  We always know when a hawk is in the area.  The birds disappear and the silence and lack of movement is immediately noticeable.

Cooper's Hawk

 Yesterday we watched a Red-tailed Hawk circle for a few minutes before moving on.  What a beautiful bird he was! (Not that I want him to take any of my little birds! Still,  he is magnificent.)

Female Cardinal
   To make our yard more attractive, we added a bird bath as a water source and planted many small trees and shrubs to provide shelter and as food sources.

Red-bellied Woodpecker
I  have taken many of these photos over several winters and, although they aren't great, they give an idea of which birds winter over on Long Island.

Yellow-shafted Flicker

  This year we have added three  birds to our line-up.  A group of three or four tufted-titmice arrived when we set out the feeders and they have come regularly since.  I have not gotten a good shot of one yet.  They are somewhat skittish and don't pose very long before flying to shelter.

  The other new bird we've spotted this winter is a red-breasted nuthatch, a cousin of the white breasted nuthatch.

Carolina Wren
  It is always fun to spot a new visitor.  We have a book of birds to help us figure out what we are seeing.

Male Cardinal
  The Red-tailed Hawk was another new bird for us.  We've seen them while hiking but never in the neighborhood.

Song Sparrow

Mourning Doves


  We are lucky to live on the North Atlantic Flyway.  Many migrating birds pass through in spring and fall and some will stop in our backyard.  Others, we  observe out in the woods and near the beaches along the shore.  But the best birds of all, are the ones who stop by everyday to say hello!

  Take away for today - Birds are good neighbors!


  1. A most enjoyable post and lovely photos Barbara. You have a wonderful variety of birds visiting your garden. Whenever I see the male Cardinal on blogs from your part of the world I am so struck by their stunning colour but I also think it must make them very vulnerable to predation! I too always know when there is a hawk around my garden by the silence and lack of birds at the feeders.

    Lovely to see the promise of Spring on your previous post. We had more snow over the weekend so Spring seems very appealing :-)

  2. Very beautiful birds ... loved them !!!

  3. I love the birds!! Thank you so much for sharing them :-)

  4. These are such lovely photos. I enjoyed each and every one. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Oh, such good photos! Thanks for this calming post. :-)


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