Winter has arrived early this season, so our pumpkin’s got a snow hat and there’s been a food fight at the feeder for the past week. I’m glad to see our winter friends return, with pointy heads, cornrows, and beaks long and short, sharp and puckered. It’s a veritable fashion show of feathers: red, white, grey, brown, golden, blue, spotted, striped, flushed, fuzzy, in jackets, masks, wing amulets and long underwear.
The chickadees break my heart in the morning. Little but full of spunk, they scold until I trudge out in my snow boots and bathrobe to fill the feeder. Once in awhile, one will alight on the railing nearby as I pour the seeds, scolding that she’d been up for hours by the time I manage to get up and bear the icy wind.
Once I am safely out of sight they visit and nosh all day long, swooping in and out, chattering up a storm. Here’s the list so far this winter: titmice, chickadees, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, finches gold and red, song sparrows, cardinal, blue jay, nuthatches, doves, carolina wren, and the unrelenting gang of juncos who have actually evolved at our feeder. Juncos are by nature ground foragers who search under bushes, doing a scratch and sniff dance to find food. But with much practice and trial and error, one of them developed the ability to fly up to the swaying feeder and land properly on it to eat. Within days the others followed suit. The junco gang is the first to arrive in the winter on our deck, and they undoubtedly alert the others that our diner has opened for the season. I am glad to serve them.