Posts Tagged ‘Townsend’s Warbler’


There’s something about the first snowfall of the year (that sticks to the ground) that makes it magical, even when that first snowfall is in February when the rest of the Northern Hemisphere is sick and tired of snow. I recall how much I hated February snow and slush before I moved to the Willamette Valley. We get some of our best snowfall in February, here in the lower end of the valley, and I now look forward to February snow.

That is, as long as I am not at work, don’t have to drive on any of the Interstates, and it falls on a weekend.

They closed the office on Friday: instant three-day weekend. I didn’t have to worry about calling in and saying I wasn’t making the 23-mile drive after all. Score that for this snow: I didn’t get caught up in the normal gridlock for more than the normal amount of time, I didn’t have to call in, it came as close to a weekend as one could hope for, and I could just enjoy the snow.


Harvey, of course, was delighted, and declared so loudly.


I had to trim the hair between his toes and up the backs of his legs because of the ice balls, but otherwise he is a snow dog.


Any time it is below the freezing mark, we switch out the hummer feeders: two in the house to thaw and two outside for the birds.


This is well appreciated by our native Anna’s hummingbirds which overwinter in the valley.


It is also appreciated by a couple black-capped chickadees and this Townsends Warbler.


Where is that buzzy bird? This is *my* feeder and it better not try to move me!


This snow brought us a bird that I haven’t had in my feeders for a long time: Audubon’s Warbler (the western version of the Yellow-rumped Warbler). So pretty!


I had to keep brushing the snow away from this feeder, which is frequented by the ground birds: Spotted Towhee and the Dark-eyed Juncos, among others. The Towhee was out there, but refused to cooperate with a photo.


We had four Varied Thrush come in. I felt sad for them because they won’t go into the backyard where the other ground feeders were, but it hopped around on top of the snow out front, looking for spillage from the front yard feeders.


So when I put our peanuts for the jays, I tossed out mealworms, too. The thrush ate the peanuts first. Who knew?


“Baby! It’s c-c-cold out here!” Dark-eyed Junco takes five.


The Northern Flicker (formerly Red-shafted for the red feathers in it’s tail) paid a visit. This is a female (no red “moustache”).


There’s always the requisite “our house in the snow” photo that has to be taken. Snowfall like this is rare (last time was four years ago). A photo taken from the right angle gives the impression that we live out in the woods and the tall Douglas firs that stand in neighbor’s yard and line the busy side street give the appearance of forest.  We don’t: there was a lot of traffic on the side road: sledders, skiers, snow-boarders, and cars. And people walking dogs.

Harvey had to go for walks. We walked in the middle of the street on the side roads so he wouldn’t have to wade in the deeper snow.


The Retired Man crossing the street to take a photo with me.


8-9 inches of snow fell over two and a half days, which isn’t much – not even for here – but it is plenty.


Snow makes ordinary things interesting.


Lawn chair frames – used as plant supports in the summer – become works of art in snow.


Or frames for icicles to form on.


Speaking of icicles… This fallen one looks like a murder weapon!


The bird house on stilts becomes a cozy cabin.

The freezing rain began falling around 4 this afternoon. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings in terms of freeze or thaw.


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I am so jazzed tonight: new bird in the bird feeder – and a rare one for a bird feeder, at that.

It was actually a pretty slow day for the bird feeder. It started frosty and cold, but once the sun was up, it warmed wonderfully. The birds tend to forage on their own when it is nice out.

Still, I had a couple Eurasian Starlings come in.

I was raised to hate starlings. They’re an invasive species, introduced from Europe, noisy and rather obnoxious. I have known a birder or two (or three or four) to take drastic measures to keep starlings out of the feeder. In fact, I have been known to quit feeding birds until the starlings move on.

This winter I decided to watch them. I am beginning to see them in a different light (my dad would roll over in his grave if he was in a grave – probably a good thing we cremated him). They’re a rather showy bird with an interesting repertoire of songs. I don’t think I will ever actually like starlings, but I think I can get used to their presence. They are, after all, here and here  to stay.

Two Band-tailed Pigeons dropped in. They didn’t stay long: my house is on a corner lot and people sometimes top at the stop sign for long minutes. Today someone got out and readjusted the load in the back of their pick-up and the pigeons decided not to hang out. They’re very shy birds, not at all like the rock doves you see congregating on public statues, under overpasses and on power lines. They are also native birds, unlike rock doves. And cleaner, I might add.

I don’t like rock doves much.

But that was it for birds until around 4:15 this afternoon, just before the sun went down. Then all the chickadees and usual little birds started filtering in. Or is that flitting in? They’re a nervous lot.

My friendly Townsend’s Warbler always takes time to pose for my camera.

But then there was the Stranger. At first I thought I had a lone Bushtit, but that would be unusual and this bird was considerably larger and slightly more yellow. It was too gray for a Goldfinch, but maybe a Lesser Goldfinch?

I snapped a photo and hoped that it would come out.

This was the best photo of the ones I took. The bird would never turn sideways to me and was entirely too nervous out in the open. I didn’t have the tripod set up to stabilize the camera (with the 75-300mm lens on it, the auto stabilization is not guaranteed to work). But the photo  is adequate.

I thought it might be a vireo because of the eye, but seeing a vireo in the feeder would be entirely unusual: they eat insects. Still… that is insect suet, full of tiny bug parts for the bug-lovers.

I usually check my birds against a couple different field guides when I am unsure about what I am looking at. Our old Peterson’s Guide that sits in the kitchen is reasonably reliable but I wasn’t satisfied with the choices. So I turned to the computer and the Cornell All About Birds web site.

Ta da! I have a definite ID on this fellow: Cassin’s Vireo (used to be Solitary Vireo, which is what Peterson’s Guide called it).

I’m jazzed.

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