While this winter’s White-Throated Sparrows and Dark-Eyed Juncos will soon be leaving us to migrate up to Canada where they breed, Chipping Sparrows are now returning to Maryland and other parts of the US and Canada from their winter spent in the south.
The most active and interesting days are often not the bright beautiful sunny days but the stormy days when birds are eager to eat as much as they can to keep energy levels high. Yesterday’s storm brought us just such a day with really interesting feathered visitors and activity, so I have pictures and stories to share with you.
There is something very special about watching a new day begin. From quiet darkness, to the first early chirps, to the first few winged visitors, building to the busy activity of dozens, the local birds are a big part of the start of each new day. If you pay attention, you are likely to see patterns in the bird activity in your yard. Every yard is different and every day is different, but this is the pattern I see on a typical winter morning in my yard.
All birds need water. If you make sure it is available to them year-round, you’ll find that it can be as much of an attraction as putting out seed or suet. In fact, birds that might have no interest in eating at a feeder may come to visit your yard if there is water available. Providing water when the temperatures dip into freezing levels, requires some adjustments, but it isn’t hard.
On Sunday a Fox Sparrow came to visit. These little birds occasionally show up in our yard, but they aren’t regulars, so it is always fun to see one hopping around on the ground with the other sparrows.
Birdbaths are popular with all birds, even birds that otherwise wouldn’t visit a bird feeder, making them a great addition to your back yard. Watching a small flock of American Goldfinches lining up around the rim to drink or an American Robin taking a bath is a joyful experience. Because birdbaths are located outside, one common way to fill them is to use a garden hose. But is your hose actually providing healthy clean water for the birds? You may be surprised to find that it is not!
Today is cool and grey and damp here in Maryland. It’s not the kind of day where you wake up with an overwhelming desire to spend the day outdoors. In fact, staying inside wrapped in something warm is appealing. But often the grey wet days can be the most interesting bird days in the yard.