The Snowy Day (With apologies to Ezra Jack Keats)

male goldfinch in winter plumagedowny woodpecker

With approximately six inches of new snow on the ground in our backyard, the bird feeders and the places where seeds fell to the ground were very popular today. Because of the snow I opted to work at home and when I needed a break from my laptop screen I stopped at the kitchen window to check out the action. Many of the regulars showed, up including this downy woodpecker and goldfinch. The downy woodpecker was the first bird on the scene this morning when I finished shoveling. Soon after I filled the sunflower tube with seeds the juncos appeared, followed by mourning doves, a cardinal, and some house finches. A bit later a red-bellied woodpecker visited the suet feeder. That’s a rare treat. I hear and see red-bellied woodpeckers often in the park but only occasionally in our backyard. I’m also pretty certain that a hairy woodpecker stopped by, and at one point there were two downy woodpeckers in the pussy willow tree. At lunch time two (or were there three?) chickadees paid a visit. Chickadees have not visited as frequently this year as they have in the past, so it was encouraging to see them.

The blue background is snow. It is reflecting the color of the sky above it, which was the deep blue color that is typical after a strong storm.

On New Year’s Day I spotted a mockingbird in the backyard. Like robins, the mockingbirds will stay nearby if they can find berries and other fruits. I’m guessing that the mockingbird is a bit less choosy than the robin, because this one was going after the barberries that have been growing in the neighbor’s yard for years.

To illustrate how much I still have to learn about the flora and fauna of the neighborhood, I just learned the name barberry on New Years Day. I’ve seen barberry bushes all my life and while I do not think of them as weeds I do not think much more highly of them than I do of weeds. They are, after all, possessed of many small, sharp thorns. Likewise I was not aware that mockingbirds would eat berries when their preferred food, bugs, is not available.

Snow is an inconvenience, although this storm could have been much worse. A decent snowfall ensures that the neighborhood birds will stop by for a meal, and that in turn means it’s incumbent on me to continue feeding them. I’m grateful that I can do so and that I have opportunities to observe them when they do stop by.

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