Sunday, November 2, 2008

Winter Is Here

I don't care what the calendar says. Temperatures struggling to reach the mid-60s, several consecutive days of rain, and the month of November is "Winter" in my book. And this belief is reinforced by the presence of wintering birds.

This past week has brought about several winter-esque sightings. Perhaps the most definitive is the first Ruby-crowned Kinglet of the year (sorry, couldn't get a photo). At least one has been foraging through the trees for the past two days. In addition, Yellow-rumped Warblers (both subspecies) have been "hover-gleaning" from the suet basket since at least last Sunday. We have hosted at least one Brown Creeper since last weekend. A Slate-colored Junco, hardly ever seen before October, has also been a regular recently. Surprisingly, there appeared to be a female Rufous Hummingbird at our nectar feeder recently. I am only about 90% sure of its identity (I suck a hummer IDs), but the ample copper coloring on the back and edge of the tail feathers suggests something other than an Anna's. It was here from at least last Saturday through Wednesday. This is noteworthy because female and juvenile Rufous are usually gone by the end of September (the males leave even earlier).

Pine Siskins extracting seeds from the gutter

A Slate-colored Junco (with a little "Oregon" brown on the back) eats sunflower chips off of the driveway

The change of seasons is also evident in terms of what has passed. Perhaps the most obvious example is the massive drop-off in American Goldfinch numbers. Just a few weeks ago, flocks of 30-60 were seen on a daily basis. I was re-filling feeders every other day! Now, a half dozen at a time are the high end. Thankfully, the Pine Siskins that flocked with them are still hanging around in small numbers.

An American Goldfinch takes an afternoon drink. "What happened to the party?"

A Song Sparrow enjoys a late Sunday afternoon.

Well, that's it for now. I hope to see a Purple Finch or perhaps a wintering sparrow (Golden-crowned, Fox, or Lincoln's) sometime soon. At the very least, FeederWatch (always a good time) begins again next weekend. Until then...

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