It’s not unheard to have snow in central North Carolina, but it also isn’t what you’d call a commonplace occurrence. It is a BIG deal when it snows here; if a couple inches of snow or some icing on the roads is expected, schools and businesses close. This is a cause of hilarity among people who originated from points north, but when they realize that many drivers here are not accustomed to winter-weather driving and that the Department of Transportation and towns are not equipped so well to deal with the conditions, they also will often stay inside and not go out on the road.
When we had two days of snow and ice storms last week, it wasn’t only people who were unhappy. The birds also didn’t seem enamored with the climate change, like the American goldfinch up above (Spinus tristis). They had had a taste of snow at the end of January, but it wasn’t such a strong storm then. The Carolina chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) was scurrying about looking for food under the snow and the American robin (Turdus migratorius) was enjoying some berries. The February storm was a bit different though
On the first day, when it didn’t snow heavily all at once (it was more a matter of lightly falling snow much of the day), I had a multitude of birds at my feeders – including some that I don’t usually see there. This mourning dove (Zenaida macroura), for example, didn’t scrounge around on the ground in the snow but landed on a feeder to see if there were seeds there.
Other birds flew back and forth between the trees and feeders, like the yellow-rumped warblers (Setophaga coronata), who weren’t always happy to have others sharing the feeders), and the tufted titmice (Baeolophus bicolor).
When out walking in a furious flurry of fat snowflakes, I ran into a neighbor who does research on bird survival. I mentioned that on the first day of the storm, I had a multitude of birds at my feeders (probably a 100 or so) but now, with this heavier snowfall, not a bird was to be seen. He noted that, given bird’s short lifespans in some cases and the fact that many would be younger, they were likely hunkering down as this was their first encounter with these weather conditions.
Another neighbor down the road and I kept our feeders filled so that our avian friends could rev up their energy stores, like the brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) and the Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis). The birds did their part by fluffing up their feathers to help keep body warmth as much as possible. And they posed for some nice photos – albeit not with enthusiastic expressions, like this warbler and Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos).
Today, they should all be happy though – we’re expecting temperatures well in the upper 60s F! That should make for happy white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis), Eastern towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) and all the other birds visiting my yard!