Backyard Birds – January 4-10

The action at the feeders this week has been interesting. I’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of Pine Siskins visiting the feeders (at one point we had over 80 Siskins at the feeder, on the ground beneath the feeder, and in the trees around our patio). American Goldfinch continue to show up in good numbers with around 15 to 20 at one time. The overall diversity of other birds remains about the same but the number of birds has dropped: instead of getting two dozen Dark-eyed Juncos there may be a group of a half dozen; instead of seeing three Spotted Towhees at one time there is only one. The two Downy Woodpeckers have been absent for close to two weeks although the female showed up briefly during my Project Feederwatch count period today.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula), one of the regulars at our suet feeder and a challenge to photograph because it's constantly moving!

I’m not sure exactly why the mix of birds has changed but perhaps its because I’m not spreading as much ground seed as I used to and the ground feeding sparrows might not have as much to choose from. Mind you there is quite a bit of spillage from the tube feeder being frequented by the Pine Siskins and the American Goldfinch. The temperature has become milder this week and it has been quite windy and wet so that may be influencing bird movement as well.

Highlight birds this week continue to be the large numbers of Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet continues to make daily appearances as does the single White-crowned Sparrow and this week saw the return of one of the Downy Woodpeckers. Our yard was also invaded by close to 90 European Starlings. Fortunately they were focused on the lawn and not the feeders!

Here’s the species list for the week:

  • Song Sparrow
  • House Sparrow
  • Dark-eyed Junco (including 1 Slate-coloured Junco)
  • Chestnut-backed Chickadee
  • Spotted Towhee
  • House Finch
  • Purple Finch
  • Bewick’s Wren
  • Ruby-crowned Kinglet
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Pine Siskin
  • European Starling
  • American Goldfinch
  • Downy Woodpecker

As part of Project FeederWatch, I’m keeping an eye on our feeders two days out of the week to help scientists track winter bird activity, abundance and diversity. It’s a great way to spend an hour or two drinking coffee and peering out into the rain. I’ve also decided to start a yard list of all the birds that visit our backyard.

Project FeederWatch