[Tweeters] Any good cold-weather sightings?

FRANK BROWN franklauriebrown at msn.com
Tue Nov 23 19:31:28 PST 2010

Winter birds arrived early in my yard this year. I'm in north Seattle, north of Greenwood behind the cemeteries, between Aurora and Greenwood. They call this area "North Park". It is just a regular small yard, maybe 30 feet by 75 feet, but I do keep several different feeders going all year.
I get white throated sparrows every winter. This year, the first arrived way early on 10/17. I've been seeing one every two or three days since then, it has very bright fresh plumage. One was out and about most of the day today.
I got a one day wonder on 10/23 - a hunting merlin, way earlier than usual. Other hawks daily hide out looking over my feeders, a sharpie looking for juncos, finches, chickadees, nuthatches, and sparrows (first showed up on 10/18), and adult and first winter Cooper's hunting rock doves, flickers, and Steller's jays (thankfully, mostly rock doves!). Some days, a sharpie sits and watches one set of feeders for hours while a Cooper sits near the other feeders waiting for larger birds. It is interesting how if only a Coopers is in the yard, the small birds just keep feeding as if everything is normal, but the jays and pigeons stay away. But, if the sharpie is alone, then the juncos and sparrows hide, but the jays and rock doves will feed, sometimes just one or two feet from the hawk. They all seem to know which hawk is a danger to which species of feeding birds.
Golden crowned sparrows and juncos arrived in mid-September - also much earlier than usual. Varied thrushes also showed up early, in mid-September.
I've had a Lincoln's sparrow on and off since 10/15, and daily fox (2) and song sparrows, an occasional Taiga race white-crowned sparrow, and towhees.
On 10/23 I got a new yard bird (#76), a winter wren, in a patch of salal and sword ferns about eight feet by two feet. It only stayed a few days. Where it came from, I don't know. The closest I know are in the sword fern and salal ravines of Carkeek Park, quite a ways from my house. I have a hard time imagining a winter wren flying that far looking for a new territory.
Every two or three days, I see a downy woodpecker (or two) making a quick visit to my suet feeder. Their caps are very red right now, and the bodies are quite smokey colored.
I have three or four Anna's patrolling two feeders. I'm having trouble keeping the feeders thawed out in this weather. Whenever the feeders are liquid, the Anna's eat until they look like flying golf balls - they get quite round.
My daily yard lists run around 18-22 right now - today, it was 21 species. Not bad for a small urban area yard. As you can tell, I do enjoy my birds.
Frank Brown

From: josh.hayes at q.com
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Date: Tue, 23 Nov 2010 10:04:38 -0800
Subject: [Tweeters] Any good cold-weather sightings?

I am hopeful some yard rarities will amble down the hills
and into town. I’ve got lots of various seed out there to entice them,
but the most interesting sighting so far was a determined little Anna’s
Hummingbird slurping on our equally-determined sage flowers out there. Not
exactly a “snow bird”!

So – anything good?

-Josh Hayes in North Seattle (4 inches of snow)

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