One kind of census*

Birds. I don’t know where they’ve been. We leave out seed for the wild birds all year long, though we slack off in the summer as there is lots to eat. We usually see hundreds of birds, dozens of varieties. But they’ve simply been AWOL this winter.

Now, however, they are back. (Isn’t this an awfully gray picture? I just took it so it shows how gray it is outside.) Of course not everyone goes south for the winter. And I certainly shouldn’t say that “all” birds have been gone: the crows, sparrows, bluejays, cardinals and goldfinches, as well as some woodpecker types, have been seen. Now, though, they’re everywhere! And wow, is the world loud with their cries.

Here is a partial list of the birds I saw this weekend at our feeders:
Tufted titmouse
Black-capped chickadee
Red-breasted nuthatch
Mourning dove
Hairy woodpecker
Yellow flicker
House finch
Purple finch
Yellow-bellied sapsucker
Red-bellied woodpecker

Strangely, the one creature we do not have on the farm are squirrels. I have seen maybe a dozen of them since we moved here two years ago. Both our old dog Alex and our new dog Penny welcome their presence. (Penny positively quakes with excitement when I say the S word.) In the area, though, we have black squirrels. They come in both small and large sizes. We also have brown, red, and gray ones. They’re all obnoxious, if you ask me, but then that is because I prefer to feed feathered creatures.

*Census data is on my mind lately, with all the family research I have been doing. I have the ____ of being Irish. The Irish tend to name people the exact same name for, well, generations. I know they are not alone in this tendency. It just doesn’t help me that there were, well, dozens of John Hogans that came to the U.S. from Tipperary, for example. *sigh*

4 responses to “One kind of census*

  1. I haven’t seen one Blue Jay in our backyard here south of Chicago. Not even one this winter & I have several bird feeders out. Lots of cardinals though. What happened to all our Blue Jays?? West Nile virus?

  2. Hi Artemisia! Hope you’re having a good winter “over there.”

    I think blue jays are clannish. We saw them only sporadically our first year here and then, it must have been last summer, a family established itself in the forest across our road. I actually was blaming them (they’re food bullies) for the low turnout around here. But West Nile is definitely a possibility too, I hear.

  3. THis last week has been crazy with birds here as well. I have everybody on your list with the exception of the vireo. And I have Carolina Wrens, sorter of a stockier more bold version of the house wren. We are absent squirrels this year for the first time. I think the chickens drew in the hawks, which consequently picked off all the squirrels. Poor little brown dog had nothing to race around after. He also quakes in excitement at the utterance of the “S” word. So is the sign of spring in your neck of the woods the disappearance of the Junco? That is our sign. They are definitely winter birds here in PA.

  4. Meredith, I will really know it is spring when the barn swallows and orioles and red-winged blackbirds come back. Supposedly, the mockingbirds live here year-round, too; they simply are silent from November-March!

    And the juncos? On occasion, they’ll hang out until late June. But if they DO go away, I know it’s closer to spring!

    Robins, though: I was still seeing flocks of them in late January. Sometimes, they stick around, too. (They’re not ones to hang around the feeders, though.)

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