In this second-to-last blog of the snowstorm series, I’d like to feature the bigger and colorful birds who demonstrated how they adapted their feeding habits to the prevailing weather. The Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) actually didn’t change their behavior that much – they looked on the ground for fallen seeds and spent plenty of time at the feeders.
They spent some time in the snow-laden trees looking lovely, too.
The Eastern towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) usually spend their time foraging underneath the feeders in search of fallen seed and they continued that behavior during the snowstorm. Unfortunately, the female was carrying a tick; I had already seen a robin and a junco with ticks on their faces – this may mean that the coming spring and summer will be an especially bad tick seasonal period for us.
The beautiful brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) looked both on the ground and at the feeders for his meals. Despite his size, s/he never bullied any other bird.
The Northern mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) was also seeking food there.
The cedar waxwings (Bombycilla cedrorum) and American robins (Turdus migratorius) had already been eating the juniper berries in the autumn; the waxwings had been by about a week earlier but now the robins were all over the trees, shaking off accumulated snow to get at the remaining fruit.
One robin looked as if s/he might have lost some outer feathers but it didn’t seem to affect her balance or flight. Occasionally, a robin also visited the meal worm feeder.
On the days following the big snowfall, as the snow melted more and more, the robins began eating it. During a previous snow event, they had joined the cedar waxwings on the roof of my house to get their drinks that way; now they were taking the snow from the trees.
They weren’t the only ones taking advantage of the opportunity. The Northern flicker (Colaptes auratus), who did not visit the feeder, spent a lot of time in an oak tree near the feeders eating snow.
There were a few birds that visit my yard who didn’t show up during the snow. They included the American crows and the hawks who often make the birds scatter from the feeders: the Cooper’s, sharp-shinned, red-tailed and red-shouldered hawks. They must have been looking for food elsewhere.
Some birds may have also avoided the feeders because of the large number of competitors who showed up, a feature of the next and last blog in this series.