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More Winter Birding

Posted Jan 22 2009 4:38pm
American Tree Sparrow

We are now well into the last half of January. My bird count is at 52 species and I hope to find 60 by the end of the month. Larry set the challenge and Kathie has listed the people who are participating in this recent post. I may not have started if I had known how much snow and cold weather was coming.

Chickadees are always welcome

My visits to Lake Ontario were very helpful in increasing the numbers of birds seen, but I thought I would feature a few birds found closer to home. My husband is trying hard to help me and asked if chickens and turkeys would count as he could take me to the farm where he gets our eggs. No, I am counting wild, not domesticated birds.

European Starlings

Some birds walk the line between wild and domestic in my view. These starlings near Breslau were all over an apple tree that was covered in frozen fruit. And some Chickadees are so accustomed to humans that they will dive-bomb trail walkers hoping for hand outs. I never tire of their antics and cheerful call. With the recent cold weather I have found that even shyer birds like Juncos are coming closer to people for food.

House Sparrows continue to be a nuisance at my feeders, but these handsome American Tree Sparrows are always fun to watch. This one followed me as I dropped seeds behind me in the snow.


Large flocks of Snow Buntings are hard to miss as they fly about from field to field in the country.

Snow Buntings

They are hard to approach and it takes a lot of quiet and patient waiting before they will come near a parked car.

One of my husband's coworkers told us about a Snowy Owl that was hanging around his father's farm just north of the city. A number of our friends have driven out to see it and have posted excellent pictures of the bird. (see here and here )

Snowy Owl on top of the silo

Our Christmas Bird Count included 11 Snowy Owls in this area. On Saturday my husband drove me to the farm and sure enough the young female was sitting on top of the silo and had no intention of coming closer. A snow storm was moving in and it was very cold so we did not stay for long.

Young Female Snowy Owl

Here is a picture of the same heavily barred bird taken by a friend who was lucky to see it near the road. It looks quite black from a distance but was easy to identify with binoculars.

Twenty-three of my January birds visit only in the winter and will return to the far north in the spring to breed. So I am glad for the challenge to look for them in the brief time they are here. Tuesday evening an Owl Prowl is being held at a local conservation area. I may have to go to reach my goal.
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