Wildlife Wednesday – February 2016

After I missed the last month’s wildlife meme hosted by Tina at her wonderful pollinator & wildlife friendly blog My gardener says, I got prepared one day in advance for this one! Spring is far, far away, so it is going to be mostly about birds for quite a while.

Of course, Tamiasciurus is doing well and says hello to all. It seems that winter has a slow-down effect on everyone – once in a while you can see her sitting still for just a few seconds.

American red squirrel

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

We have been having a weird, unusual winter with periods of alternating snow and rain. Usually is cloudy, and combined with the fact that I am taking the pictures from inside the house, contributes to ‘no so great’ pictures. In most cases I realized that I photographed a new visitor only after opening the images on the computer!

A nice feeder come in the form of a much appreciated gift :), and besides our regulars, the cardinal and house sparrows, new bird species have showed up. Some I admit to have identified with help from a more connoisseur person; it takes a while to have your eyes used to discerning all the details.
Early January was snowy and perfect to catch the Northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis), displaying its beautiful feathery red costume on the white carpet. You wonder sometimes if he knows is being photographed by the pose he takes!

Cardinal

Northern cardinal – Cardinalis cardinalis

I think the female cardinal, although in more toned down colours, is also very beautiful.

Cardinal female

Northern cardinal – female

New species (for me) were the House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus), the Pine Siskins (Spinus pinus) and the American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis). I don’t know why the house finch male from the featured image was looking so upset on Monday; too crowded at the feeder?

I don’t think I would have had been able to ID the pine siskin without help (right and left of the house finch). Honestly, from the distance it seemed to me like yet another sparrow. They are very interesting birds. Apparently, every couple of years they make unpredictable movements called irruptions into southern and eastern North America. So you can have lots of them around for a few years, and then they can be completely absent in the next years. This seems to depend partly on the state of cone crops in northern North America.

They are gregarious birds and as their name suggests, have a fondness for the seeds of pines and other conifers like cedars, larch, hemlock and spruce. But they also feed on deciduous tree seeds and later will consume young buds of trees, soft stems and leaves of weeds and other plants. They also forage for insects, spiders, and grubs and are attracted by mineral deposits (including the winter road beds that are salted here to melt the snow and ice).

One last image, taken this past Sunday, is of the Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis). With the pointed, long beak and the conspicuous marking on the head, it wasn’t too hard to find its name. Or it means that I’m getting better at it? :)

RB nuthatch

Red- breasted Nuthatch – Sitta canadensis

They are described as “small, stubby tree climbers with strong, woodpecker-like bill, strong feet and short, square-cut tail, which habitually go down trees headfirst” – something I look fw to photographing one day!

Happy Wildlife Wednesday!

10 replies
  1. Tina
    Tina says:

    Great photos and so glad you joined in with Wildlife Wednesday! I’m fairly sure you’re correct about the male Cardinal–those guys just KNOW they’re pretty boys and like to mug for the camera. I love those Pine Siskins. I’ve never seen them in my area, though I know that they live in North Texas. Do you usually get House Finches in the winter? Somehow, I though they were more of a southern climate bird. I’ve also had some American Goldfinch visitors this past week and am so excited about that! Thanks for joining in this month and I look forward to more!

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      Yeah, that’s what I was thinking too about the cardinal, pretty boy indeed. I don’t know what to say about House Finches since this is a new place (hence too much grass may show up in some pictures ;) ;not too many of them
      though. More birds for next month as well, just today I counted at least 5 doves sitting in the grass to enjoy the short break we have from snow.

  2. sueturner31
    sueturner31 says:

    Love your birds … it’s fascinating to see species from around the world, you get quite use to your own and then these beauties pop up …thanks for sharing and brightening my morning. Sue.

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      AhT Thank you Sue for your kind words.Sometimes I think if it’s worth posting more images when so many are already over the net on every subject.

  3. Julie
    Julie says:

    We have nothing here as colourful as your Cardinal, he really does look as if he’s posing for the camera. I had a senior moment earlier and decided you lived in Switzerland, I realise now the Robins you refer to are American Robins, larger than ours but just as striking. Lovely post, I hope your weather settles into something more normal.

    • diversifolius
      diversifolius says:

      I don’t know if I can have as an excuse a senior moment, but you know, I was thinking when commenting that your Robins look a little smaller :) Didn’t cross my mind there are more of them!
      They surely behave the same.

  4. Shirley
    Shirley says:

    It’s amazing how bright cardinals are in winter, especially against the snow. How wonderful you have so many interesting birds to see you through the winter in your garden.

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