It has been a strange winter up here in Northeastern Wisconsin. Unseasonably warm. We have been enjoying temps in the upper 30’s, then the 40’s and it was 53 this past Wednesday. The grass was still green and Curt spent the day buttoning down everything and getting the cars in the garage before the snowplow guy arrived. Thursday we had the first significant snow of the winter (3 inches) but it’s already mid-January. I just hope there isn’t a quota somewhere that has to be met before you get to have Spring or we are going to have a helluva ride in the next couple of months. We had 30 inches at this time last year. By April we had sixty!
Along with extra time to do yard work, very little driving on snow-packed roads and lower heating bills the mild weather brought a variety of birds to our feeders. Some we had never seen in our yard and some we hadn’t seen in years. It started in November with a Northern Shrike. A shrike is a predatory songbird who feeds on small birds and rodents and is known for its habit of impaling them on spines or barbed wire. Cool, huh? Anyway, this guy tried to propel himself through the window of our front door and spent a good thirty minutes trying to clear his head. More than enough time for us to observe and get some good photos.
December brought a Ring-necked Pheasant to the yard. He was very skittish and even the slightest movement from us would bring his head up. Fortunately he hung around long enough for us to get a few shots of him from the front window.
Last month also gave us Common Redpolls which we hadn’t seen in years. These are little finches with red caps and black masks. They hang out with the House finches and Goldfinches who come to the feeders in mass so they are not always obvious. But Curt spotted them and even got a few shots. There are two in this picture, one front center, the other upper left. The other birds are house finches.
January has brought one or two Pine Siskins, and a Red-breasted nuthatch has become a regular visitor. But the best sighting by far has been the Brown Creeper. I have to say that this has always been one of my favorite birds. He is a small, well-camouflaged bird ( as you can tell from our picture) who creeps along tree trunks, moving upwards, rather than down like a nuthatch. Supposedly he is a year-round resident in this part of Wisconsin but I have only seen them in early Spring and only in heavily wooded areas like our local wildlife sanctuary. Curt spotted him first (yes, again, but he gets up before I do), and shouted so excitedly I practically fell down the stairs, trying to get to the window. Once we both got a sighting, we looked at each other and said, “Get the camera!” This little guy never stops moving so I am amazed we even got this picture.
So what’s in your backyard?