Friday, February 24, 2017

February Birds

Our February birds were similar to January's visitors.  It is still winter, after all.  I'm posting pictures of the newbies.  The most frequent visitors continue to be gold-crowned sparrows.  There are a handful of house sparrows thrown in, as well.  One morning, I saw a bird that was similar in coloring to a house sparrow -- but not the same exactly.  Same colors, different markings.  I think this is what I saw.  But I'm not positive.  I have only seen it that one time which makes me think that maybe I didn't see it at all.  I'm learning that bird watching is not simple or straight forward.  It's darn difficult.
Chestnut-backed Chickadee
We have a few house finches that have joined the purple finches at the feeder.  They are definitely a brighter red than their cousins and they have a red spot on their tail.  I'm sure on this bird.
House finch
And then there was the mystery bird.  A beautiful bird, the size and shape of a sparrow, but a beautiful pale, warm, buff color -- uniformly colored -- started hanging out at the feeder.  I consulted both of my bird books; the quick and easy Sierra bird book and my comprehensive Sibley guide.  Nothing.  I scoured the Internet.  Nothing.  Finally, in desperation, I called our friend Steve who studied ornithology -- so he has a degree in birds.  If he didn't know, I was sunk.  Steve was able to identify the bird -- its a gold-crowned sparrow with a pigment mutation.  No wonder I couldn't find it.  And he told me not to stress about being unable to identify every bird I see.  "It happens to all of us," he said.  If it happens to Steve, then I'm good with letting it go.
Photo by Christian Dionne - posted on website
I put up two kinds of bird feeders in my garden.  I read that it is best to have feeders designated for specific birds.  If you put in an all purpose bird seed mix, the birds will pick through it and discard much of it on the ground.  So, I bought a big feeder and filled it with sunflower seeds.  It is very popular with the sparrows, finches and juncos.  The other is a cylinder of mesh, filled with teeny tiny Niger seed.  It took the goldfinches a few days to find it, but now it typically has five to ten little gold birds clinging to its sides.  I love the goldfinches and the way they light up the bare branches of the garden oak tree with their bright yellow bodies and cheerful chirping.
Lesser Goldfinch
In mid-February, a new bird showed up at the feeder.  It flew a few times to the feeder, but mostly walked upside down on the limbs of the garden oak tree.  That's how I knew what it was; that and its long skinny beak - perfect for sticking into the crevices of trees to get tasty bugs.

White Breasted Nuthatch

(all photos from the Audubon website unless otherwise noted)


  1. Loved my morning bird id lesson! Aren't they cute? So many colors and sizes, and different song. I know very little, but enjoy watching them and their dynamics.
    We've seen a couple of those chestnut backed chickadees here lately too, not all that common. We had snow this morning. 37 and fat-flaked, wet snow, but it's still snow.
    I'm really getting anxious for spring and some drier weather.

  2. I have a similar feeder set up to your- one niger, one sunflower and one suet. I only do the suet in the winter. Right now I have Juncos, chickadees, blue jays, mourning doves, gold finches, nut hatches and downy woodpeckers,

  3. I used to really love the nut hatches but lately they've been trying to drill holes in the plastic of the bird feeder, and they sift through the sunflowers, trying to find something better, tossing masses of them onto the ground. Our chimney sweep came out and found sunflower seeds packed in our furnace vent chimney and I know they like to pack seeds into tree bark so it must be the nut hatches. Oh, yours seems to be a different color.

    I was looking forward to your February Birds post, wondering if you'd keep it up.

  4. They're all really pretty and interesting. I get the same birds all the time and could probably name them and their eating habits. The crows are hard to tell apart though. I sometimes put out old bread or bagels the birds and squirrels like it. The crows prefer white bread and will take that away first. Very picky about flavors!

  5. An American in TokyoFebruary 26, 2017 at 11:46 PM

    Wow, so many different birds in your area!
    My pet finch always wastes about half of his seed because he's always looking for something. His tastes change, too. I put tons of canary seed in sometimes and he will go after something else. Foo! Too smart for me! Ha ha!

  6. We've been feeding about 10 black-capped chickadees and 2 finches on our deck. I have loved watching them this year. They're so sweet. The deck sits right off our family room, so we can can watch them from the window, too. The guests love them!


Thanks so much for commenting! I love the conversation.