The snow and cool temps brought a "Flurry" of activity to the backyard today with 16 species observed throughout the day. Highlights of the day were a nice visit from a female Northern Flicker. (A first to my backyard), 2 Fox Sparrows and an American Tree Sparrow which I hadn't seen all winter.
The other notables were 16+ Dark-eyed Juncos, 2 Song Sparrows, 2 House sparrow, 2 Morning Doves, 1 Brown headed Cowbird, 2 Red-Winged Blackbirds, 1 Crow, 3 Robins, Many Pigeons, Starlings and grackles. The ever loyal Chickadees and Downy's were wondering what happened to their once quiet haven.
I know these birds are old birds for you in the south but for us in the north, the action has just begun and it's exiting.
Enjoy, Andrew, 'tis the season!
Sounds like a great day in the backyard Andrew! Its great to have some new spring arrivals.
You have inspired me to count the backyard birds also.
I just minutes ago put some cracked corn out for the sparrows( Its 6am) and right after the dog and I came in, a big brown animal with an arched back and a long tail loped in to look from the front of the house- we are on a cliff facing deep water, sniffed at the feeder area and quickly loped back again. I think it must have been an otter, I can't think of what else it could nave been, Certainly not a possum. Big strong animal, three feet long including the tail. Made me nervous about the dog.
Neat sighting Joyce!
I think I've gone through more seed in 3 days than I did all winter. Especially the White Millet! The Juncos seem to like it here and have held steady since the last snow storm. I'm hitting 40+ now along with one more Fox Sparrow to make it 3 and 1 more Tree sparrow to make it 2. 3 Savannah sparrows were here for 3 days but weren't sighted today. New arrivals today were 3 Common Redpolls which I saw only once this past winter and 1 Pine siskin which I hadn't seen since the fall. A female Cowbird dropped in to join the Male. The Goldfinches are increasing daily and the purple finches are now making periodic visits. Song sparrows are up to five and 5 male and 1 female Red winged Blackbirds showed up yesterday.
I forgot to mention that one of the Redpolls had some hoary features but I am not certain for sure. What do you guys think. The Hoary's that I had in the Backyard last winter were obvious specimens whereas this one isn't as clear cut and I didn't have many Common Redpolls to compare with. Here are a few shots. The undertail does seem to be pretty clean, whitish rump but scapulars don't look too frosty to me. Face looks to have somewhat of a punched in look and the red on top of the head seems a little smaller than normal but hard to gauge.
Surely has a white rump, Andrew and the streaks on the flank are very light. My thoughts would echo yours.
Yea seems to fit eh....funny how out of 3 birds, there could be a hoary in the bunch.
Funny is, that I had but one Redpoll on March 15th. this year. I used to have them in droves.
To me, your Redpoll isn't "frosty" enough. I can't tell in your photos but if you saw a clean under-tail that's a pretty good feature. The species are notoriously variable with both Common & Hoary having Southern & Greenland populations so I wouldn't rule out your identification. Size isn't much use because individuals of both Greenland populations run 10%-12% larger than their Southern cousins.
My group photo shows a hundred or so. It was all that I could get into one shot but there were over 300 at (and on) my feet.
In that photo there aren't any that really qualified as "Hoary" although, as you can see, there were several very pale individuals.
My single Redpoll is a Common. It had a nice white rump but the under-tail was heavily streaked.
Incidentally, the proposal to lump the Common & Hoary into a single species is again before the AOS and there's a strong possibility that it could happen this year.
Ha ha yea understood Ralph and that's why I left it to "could" be as I know differentiating the species is very hard and like you said may be lumped into a single species anyway. Regardless, it was nice seeing Redpolls at the feeder after not seeing them much all winter. I did save alot on thistle though ;) Thanks for your opinion.
I can count all the Redpolls that I saw this winter on one hand and have fingers left over.
As for the thistle seed; "my" Goldfinches keep the demand high. I find that Redpolls drop less seed and they are more willing to clean up spilled seed. Better table manners, you might say.
Regardless of their eating habits, they are fun birds. I think that we all cross our fingers just a bit with the onset of each winter.