Our most welcome winter guests
We are enjoying our bird project, and the official FeederWatch program has not even begun, yet. Now that we have new windows and our sunroom remains a comfortable temperature despite the temperature extremes outdoors, I am looking forward to moving the bulk of our education out there so we can keep on eye on the feeders. Previously, my son would run and check every so often and report back to us on the activity. He is only three and getting quite good at identifying our birds...he recognizes goldfinches, sparrows and robins at the moment. Our favorite is the little nuthatch that visits us several times per day. I'm assuming it is the same one, because they are highly territorial. Anyway, he loves hanging upside down. So although he could easily perch on the feeder "properly" to take a sunflower seed, he prefers to hang from the top and snatch up a seed. He then carries it to a nearby tree, wedges it in the bark, and cracks it open.

The other bird we really enjoy visiting is our "gray finch." Now, there really is no such thing. But gold finches are supposed to be in their winter plumage right now. They all look something like this, with some degree of variation in shading and brightness:

But not this regular visitor. I keep calling it a her because her colors are duller, but I really don't know. At first, I did not know what "she" was, because she didn't match anything in the bird guide. However, she is the same size and shape as the other goldfinches. She comes and goes with them in a small flock of five or six birds. And her markigs are the same. Here is the best photo I have of her (she is near the back of the bath). On the edge of the birdbath, you can see a "normal" goldfinch. He has his feathers puffed up from the cold. Someone should tell him not to bathe in ice water!

Our newest visitor is this little guy, an Audobon's warbler. They don't normally come to feeders, but this one wanted a bath. And if that goldfinch above thought the water was cold, he should have talked to this guy. He bathed in a hole in the ice that the robins had pecked out! This isn't a picture I took, but is from this site.

We finally had a small group of dark-eyed juncos, a popular winter visitor in Nebraska. I'm hoping yet to see that favorite of feeder birds, the chickadee.

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