Saturday, 7 February 2015

A Sure Sign of Impending Spring

Waterloo, ON
7 February 2015

     We have a small rodent, some kind of Microtus vole I suspect, living in a burrow beneath the snow directly below one of our bird feeders. It emerges for the briefest of forays to snag some of the seed knocked down by the birds, but is back in its hole in a flash. I doubt whether the period of exposure exceeds three seconds and we have not been able to get a photograph that is anything other than a dark blob on the snow. 
     While attempting a shot this morning we turned our attention to the American Goldfinches Spinus tristis which are the most frequent visitors to our feeders, and the following detail was revealed on the photographs.

     Those little black smudges on the head of the bird are an unmistakable sign of a male American Goldfinch starting to moult into breeding plumage - an absolutely guaranteed sign that the spring courtship season is not far behind.
     In recent days we have shovelled about 30 cm of snow from out driveway and sidewalk, and another 20 cm or so is forecast for tomorrow into Monday. So these portents of milder weather to come are welcome indeed.

     Thanks to the rodent for popping up onto the snow, otherwise we probably would not have bothered to shoot this familiar bird of whom we have hundreds of pictures already!


  1. Gorgeous shots and beautiful birds !

  2. Hi David, I looked for the Spinus pinus on Wikipedia and saw a different species you show us here.
    Your picture looks most like a Spinus tristis. The pictures are very nice, but what about the species?
    Gr Jan W

    1. Kudos to you Jan. You are absolutely correct. And I know both species well. I must have had a mental aberration when I used the scientific name of Pine Siskin instead of Spinus tristis for American Goldfinch. It's great that you picked it out and let me know. I will change it immediately.

  3. Hello David,
    What a funny shots!! Great this hungry bird.

    Best regards,

  4. Lovely blog David, the bird is beautyful. Yes signs of spring are everywhere. On my terras I have a big pot with a small tree in wich I hang the birdfeeders. And latley I discoverd in the earth a hole of a mouse who made his home there.

  5. Hi David! I've been enjoying your recent posts with all their lovely birds. I think the snowy owl was the coolest. How I would love to see one for real! And those wild turkeys are so different from domesticated ones, I've tried to catch the American goldfinches with my camera here, but they flit so fast! Thanks for sharing your beautiful birds with everyone!

  6. It must be encouraging to see those signs of spring!

  7. Don't mind the snow, but I'm hoping for no more of those -20C days!

  8. Hello!:) I like all the grumpy looking Finches, and can't get enough shots of them. Yours are great, and perhaps next time you will be lucky enough to capture the vole to show us.
    Best Regards.

  9. Beautiful pictures, interesting blog. I will be a regular guest here :) Best regards, Monika

  10. Superb pictures of these beautiful birds, David.
    With the snow they are hungry.
    Have a good Sunday.
    Best regards, Irma

  11. After all that talk about this little rodent.... I want to see the pics!!!
    Funny enough, I saw one too a few days ago but every time I wanted to click, it his behind a leaf! LOL!
    This goldfinch is really beautiful even if it is common where you are :)
    Hugs to share with Miriam :)

  12. With that weather forecast, David, I'm thinking that you, and the Goldfinch, might be being a little optimistic!!

    Perversely, I'm hoping for a bit more snow here, so that I can get out and get some images, as it looks as if I might be less tied to home soon.

    Best wishes to you both - - - - Richard

  13. Feeding the littlebirds often involves supplying other opportunistic creatures like accipiters and brown furry things. Both rats and voles here but fortunately they tend have nocturnal habits so don't frighten the householders.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    Who was it sang that silly song, "If I was a rich man"?

    Dream on Mr G, I hear tell you're not short of a Bob or two. "Bob" = English shilling.

  14. Beautiful photos of the green, here they sit in the garden.
    Greetings Tinie

  15. Spring..................still haven't really started thinking about that yet.

  16. Lol ... the mouse will also be hungry and grateful use of the feed for the birds:-) Beautiful pictures you've made these beautiful colored finch.

  17. The gf looks wonderfully healthy and happy. I'm glad you are feeding them. And not begrudging the little rodent his moment in the sun. (So to speak).