|Ominous morning clouds over Pinchot Lake|
My feeder birds are better at predicting snow than the local forecasters. Two days ago I wasn’t supposed to get any precipitation when I noticed the feeder birds chowing down in earnest. That’s never a good sign. It’s true they weren’t going at the bird seed like little demons, but the level of feeding was definitely higher than was normal for 10 a.m. The clouds looked ominous, and snow wasn’t far to the south of me. Perhaps it was just nearness of that coastal storm that set them off. But no.
Within an hour, the first snowflakes appeared, and not long after that the snow was heavy enough that I couldn’t see the mountain to the west and before long I couldn’t even see to the bottom of Roundtop. For an hour or so, the snow was pretty intense before it began to taper off. The feeder birds do not lie. They know when it’s going to snow. They are not fooled.
This winter, I don’t have any exotic or unusual feeder birds, just the usual suspects in roughly the same numbers as is typical. For me, this means about 5 Carolina chickadees, a pair of Northern Cardinals, 2-3 tufted titmice, a pair of Carolina wrens, another of eastern nuthatch, the ubiquitous downy woodpecker and an array of dark-eyed juncos that never seem to quite understand how feeders work. They are much more likely to just sit around and watch the other birds eat from the feeders. Eventually, they return to the ground where they join the white-throated sparrows.
I also have a few infrequent visitors—a pair of house finch and another of American goldfinch, the red-bellied woodpecker and occasionally the hairy woodpecker taps on the tree from which the bird feeders hang. I have yet to see that one in the bird feeders. I have no sign of pine siskins, let along the even more rare evening grosbeak or the rarer still, redpoll.
Still, I do not complain as watching these little ones flit in and out never gets old for me. They teach me a lot about the behaviors of the different species, and, as weather forecasters go, they can’t be beat.