Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve Bird Party

The Christmas Eve snowfall brought perfect conditions for an active morning at the bird feeders. Trying to attract woodpeckers more regularly, I recently added a shelled-peanut feeder and moved our suet feeder from a location where it was hanging freely to one where it had a firm backing. Within a couple of days we were seeing a marked increase in woodpecker visits. Below, a male downy woodpecker (the males have the red spot on the back of the head) is seen on three different feeders. Within the same hour or so we had a red-breasted and a white-breasted nuthatch, chickadees, about a dozen pine siskins, and house finches (the males showing brilliant red plumage). The photos below give an idea of the action, with birds coming and going while I focused on one bird or another.

Downy woodpecker at suet feeder

A chickadee flies past

Downy woodpecker at the tube feeder, eating sunflower seeds

Downy woodpecker at the peanut feeder while a male house finch flies to the platform feeder

A red-breasted nuthatch joins the house finch and downy woodpecker

Black-capped chickadee eating peanuts
White-breasted nuthatch - note the flat head

Nuthatches are often seen head-down
My 11-year-old son took the photos of the white-breasted nuthatch and was the first to alert me to the gathering numbers at the feeders that morning.

Later in the day I caught sight of a large northern flicker (another member of the woodpecker group) hanging at the bottom of the tube seed feeder, which is an unusual sighting for this usually ground-feeding bird. My first instinct when I saw its size and splash of red was that it was a red-bellied woodpecker, which I've only ever seen once at the feeders but am hoping to attract with the new set-up, but then I saw the unmistakable spots on its breast to prove it was a flicker before it flew away.

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