Snow birds

A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder. 
 –Susan Orlean

We had snow today in Atlanta… real snow that caused my school to shut down early. I just saw on the TV that school’s closed tomorrow too… a snow day!

I spent the afternoon watching the birds in their snow-induced feeding frenzy. I sat on the warm couch and photographed them through the window as they scavenged bits of dropped seeds and suet or quenched their thirst at the flowerpot saucer I kept unfrozen with warm water.

I’m happiest to see the bluebirds so close; we have four or five at time at the suet feeder when the weather is especially cold. They bring other nice birds with them. A couple of yellow-rumped warblers are often around and occasionally a ruby-crowned kinglet even visits!

Pine warblers… we have what seems like a lot of pine warblers. It’s hard to know for sure how many there are because the males chase everyone else away from the feeder.

And they chase everyone else off their perch on the fence.

And they don’t like to share the flowerpot saucer, either. Such pretty birds, like a ray of bright sunshine. It’s still odd to me to see them in wintertime, but what a treat!

A counting

There’s 92 species of birds on the list for the year already; some favorites are American Pipit, Loggerhead Shrike and Wilson’s Plover. I’ve never kept a year list before. I don’t generally “do” lists, but thought it might be entertaining for a while. I’m wondering what a reasonable expectation for the year might be… 200? 250? Any additional birds will accumulate slowly until Spring, unless of course there’s travel involved. 2013 was a good year for new birds for me and I took a couple nice trips that added to my (only in my head) life list.


In February, we went to Sanibel Island, Ding Darling NWR, Cape Coral and Ft. DeSoto. The weather was crappy and the drive was interminable, but I hope to get back to that area sometime. Lots of neat birds…

Common Ground Dove – easily overlooked, but striking when they show their rusty wings.

Monk Parakeets feeding in the same field we found this Burrowing Owl; hard to say which felt more unlikely to this Jersey Girl.

: )

We also saw Nanday Parakeets and a Long-billed Curlew on that trip. Talk about impossible to imagine birds!

This Vermillion Flycatcher was probably the least expected bird I added to my nonexistent life list last year – just gorgeous! A friend of a friend on FB gave me directions to a town just west of Tallahassee and I found it in the exact tree where he said it would be – imagine!

I’ve no idea what new birds 2014 holds for me…

Surprise yourself

May your coming year be 
filled with magic and
dreams and good
madness. I hope you read
some fine books and kiss
someone who thinks
you’re wonderful, and
don’t forget to make some
art – write or draw or build
or sing or live as only you
can. And I hope,
somewhere in the next
year, you surprise
-Neil Gaiman
Happy New Year!