Snow Birds

As the summer avian residents depart for the tropics, it gets very quiet outdoors around here, both in sound (the birds’ songs) and visually. I can move through an area and not scare up a bird.

Just as I am starting to feel a bit depressed about the lack of avian activity, species that I haven’t seen since Spring begin to return. These birds nested and fledged their chicks far to the north, and consider my location (39 deg N latitude) their winter home.

Except for the orange slices I put out for the Orioles’ arrival in Spring and the Hummingbird nectar feeders that I keep filled all summer, I do not offer seed or suet to wild birds in summer. However, just a few days ago, I restocked the platform feeder in the north Pond Meadow to welcome the winter residents after their long migrations from the far north.

One of the first returnees is a true favorite of mine. The White-crowned Sparrow is a distinctive, gregarious little bird.

Yesterday, I captured a couple of these cute sparrows on and around the feeder. The adult birds sport very distinguishing head markings that some people refer to as a bicycle helmet.

The juvenile individuals have a similar marking pattern to the adults. However, they have brown, rather than black stripes over their head. The contrasting bright white along with the black hue develop over time.

These birds are known to scratch (seeds) like a chicken. I caught the behavior in the following photo!

I’m happy to welcome these cuties back for the winter.

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