whitecrownsparrows.jpgWe’ve moved into the winter bird time of the year. The house finch that might have been easily overlooked in the crowds at my feeder in the summer becomes a superstar when he stops by in December or January. I’ll sit and watch him until he leaves, maybe even retrieve the binoculars for a closer look (I always feel that house finches get an ego boost if they see me watching them through my binoculars – “Look guys! She’s ‘watching’ me!” If I really want to boost them, I’ll get one of my bird guides and read the bird’s description).

Some species only show up at this time of year (or perhaps they were here in summer, but I them more easily now?). The juncos have started scouring under my backyard feeder (my favorite is the “Oregon form” with his dark hood that reminds me of an executioner), and a Townsend’s solitaire was quietly eating berries in the big juniper tree this week. And every winter I keep an eye out for a flock of cedar waxwings, in case they show up in the juniper too. A special treat was the pair of white-crowned sparrows that showed up last winter to forage in the mulch (see photo).

Others seem to disappear completely for the season. Robins are scarce, and so, thankfully, are the grackles. The lesser goldfinches that loved the thistle feeder so much a few weeks ago will not be back until June or July. But there are some faithful feathered friends – the chickadees, both black-capped and mountain, show up and announce themselves well and regularly, and the house finches and house sparrows drop by on occasion.

Sometimes in the winter, it’s hard to imagine that there ever was such a plethora of birds here a few months ago, and it seems daring to hope that there will be again. So each bird that stops by becomes an event, a bit of a reminder to stop and appreciate the nature I do get to experience in the winter.