Sunday, January 24, 2016

Look What the Snow Blew In!

When ice and snow blow in to areas that do not regularly get such frozen precipitation there is a huge uptick in activity at feeders. No doubt those of you who stayed home last Friday during the winter weather event noticed this. Birders have long known the effects of inclement weather on the feeding habits of our winter birds.

Before noon that day I had already received photos of an adult male Cape May warbler and a probable immature male ruby-throated hummingbird from locations in Charlotte. Just a couple of days prior, a brilliant male painted bunting was discovered coming to a Charlotte feeder. The male painted bunting is arguably the most brilliantly plumaged songbird in North America. They winter along our coast in small numbers but their winter presence in the piedmont is extremely rare.

This male painted bunting showed up at a Northwest Charlotte feeder during the snow and ice.
Photo by Lee Weber. 

This Cape May Warbler near Freedom Park was a complete surprise. They should be in Florida or the Caribbean right now.
Photo by Cindy Lockhart

Ruby-throated Hummingbird by Brucie Harry

One excited feeder watcher photographed a nice Baltimore oriole, the first she had seen in four years.
I didn’t have anything near on a par with those species but I did notice a few birds that are infrequent visitors to my feeder set-up. The brown thrasher that lurks in the streamside shrubs spent most of the day under the feeders scavenging spilled seeds and suet crumbs. A pair of Eastern towhees joined the regular flock of white-throated sparrows and dark-eyed juncos that scratch the soil under the feeders too. A lone yellow-rumped warbler pecked at the suet for most of the day.

A pair of pine siskins, the first I have seen in 2016, mixed in with a flock of American goldfinches. American robins and cedar waxwings opted for the running water in the creek. I don’t really offer anything they might want to eat. A pair of blue jays, always present in the yard but very infrequent visitors to the feeders, even gave in and came for some shelled peanuts.

I was hoping for a fox sparrow or two, another species that is notorious for showing up on snowy days, but they have been in pretty short supply all over this winter. A few purple finches have been reported from the area but they too avoided my yard.

Maybe you had some new or unfamiliar visitors to your offerings. If you did I am interested in hearing about them or even seeing some photos. Contact me at