A day at the feeder — sunflower seeds and suet

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The first day of Spring or the last day of winter. A bit of a transition today. The snow fall is wet but steady and although the temperature is above freezing, snow is sticking. I filled our feeder with sunflower seed from Peace Valley Nature Center, and put out a fresh block of suet. Let the birds come.

Thomas Jefferson, Franklin, and other colonial fathers were journal keepers. Jefferson for instance recorded each day’s weather, his garden journals were extremely detailed. Today I decided to record the birds at the feeder. All winter we have had a lot of woodpeckers — Downy, both male and female. The male has a small red spot on his head. Downeys are very similar to Hairy Woodpeckers only smaller — 6 rather than 9 inches. Bigger like the Hairy and more distinctive is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. Red head patch, tan belly and white and black checkered back. As much as I like woodpeckers they are a bit of a nuisance. Lines of small holes on the siding document their attention to our house. Here is a Red-bellied getting its fill of suet.

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Although typically a ground feeder, one female Cardinal decided to try her luck at the feeder. Although the buff colored, red beaked female is not as showy as the red male, I like them. Our most common feeders today and for the past few months are Dark-eyed Juncos (gray backs, white bottoms), House Finches (a touch of red-purple in the males) and American Goldfinches (not as yellow in winter). Black-capped Chickadees (or were they Carolinas) are pretty common. Always enjoy the White-breasted Nuthatch walking and feeding up side down. According to my guide Stokes, this evolutionary development allows them to find food that “right side up” birds like woodpeckers might miss.

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One of my favorites this season has been the Carolina Wrens. A pair of them live close by but I am not sure where. In previous years (I’m sure the same family), they have lived in our shed and the pipes of Jenny’s swing (that was many years ago). But for decades we seem to have always had a family of Wrens. I always called them Jenny Wrens but that may been a homage to my daughter Jenny or to Paul McCartney’s song Jenny Wren.

For a few weeks we have been seeing Yellow-rumpled Warblers. They have splashes of yellow on their rump and on their side. Males have a touch of yellow on the crown. They may have been around for years but it was only a few weeks ago that we identified them in Yardley. Not a life bird however, in 2008 we saw them in Cape May.

The last bird for today is a bit of a guess. Diane and I both think we saw Song Sparrows. It’s a bird we’ve seen on Nantucket but we usually ignore sparrows at home. I wanted to nail down a sighting today but they didn’t return.

Eleven different species at our feeder during this transition day — winter to spring. Still snowing. Transition continues tomorrow.

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