Winter is upon us. How do I know this? Well, from the influx of little winter birds of course! My Daddy always called them snowbirds, and since he called them snowbirds, I naturally thought that there appearance meant there would be snow soon. Much to my dismay, their appearance did not always bring snow. Living in the south, we look for every sign we can that snow will be coming soon, because we don’t get it very often…but I digress, so let’s get back to the snowbirds.
I realized last year that I couldn’t keep calling these little guys snowbirds, especially considering there were several different species hopping around the yard. Therefore, I got out my handy dandy field guide and perused its depths looking for my little birds. I picked this guide up at a gift shop at a state park within the last year, and it has become an indispensable part of my hiking and photography repertoire. With my handy dandy field guide and internet access, I was able to identify the most common winter bird that my daddy referred to as a snowbird.
The Dark-Eyed Junco
He’s a wonderful little bird and a sure sign that winter has arrived. This little guy flies right in with the cold it seems. And on Thanksgiving Day, several of these fat, fluffy little guys were hopping around in my butterfly bushes.
Who would have ever thought that butterfly bushes would attract birds? But they do. These bushes attract all of the smallest little chippers into their spidery branches. Apparently the twisting and weaving branches of this bush provide a safe haven for small birds, as it is quite difficult to see into their branches. Also, the branches are very small in diameter, which is perfect for little feet to wrap around.
It had rained on the days leading up to Thanksgiving, and the rain had collected in some holes the dogs had dug underneath the bushes forming two perfect little bird baths. As I sat at the kitchen table listening to Mama talk, I started to notice the birds gathering to drink and bathe. (My cat, Butterscotch, noticed them too. He sat in eager anticipation, just hoping somehow the window would disappear, and he could spring on the unsuspecting little feather dusters.) Their little chips and chirps caught my attention, and I began to watch them. They would flit down to the little puddles, take a drink, splish and splash a little to rinse their feathers, and then flit back up to a branch to preen. I was captivated. I grabbed my camera and began taking pictures of these little cuties. I only managed a handful of good shots, but I will share the ones I got.
When they began to disperse, I filled the feeders with food hoping to bring them back. They have been feeding at the feeders ever since. In fact, they are enjoying their breakfast as I type.