The fact that so many more people are feeding birds than was true in the past, combined with increasingly warm winters, means that accipiters like Sharp-shinned Hawk Accipiter striatus are ever more frequently choosing to remain here rather than migrate.
We have been fortunate to have one showing up in our yard regularly.
There is a smorgasbord of prey awaiting her (we believe it's a female based on size) but so far we have not seen her take a bird. She is a magnificent specimen in prime condition and is obviously making a very good living. Perhaps when she rests here for a while she has recently eaten and is not in hunting mode.
In fact in the picture below, American Goldfinches Spinus tristis which initially scattered with the arrival of the hawk have returned and are perched in the branches above her. She is glancing up but seems disinclined to initiate pursuit.
There is an impressive range of species for her dining pleasure, our feeders having been especially active this year.
Northern Cardinal Cardinalis cardinalis is a regular visitor, both male and female, and we see them most days.
There is a small ground conifer under the birch tree and Dark-eyed Juncos Junco hyemalis tend to hide under it and dart out to snag seed knocked down by the American Goldfinches. But a couple of them have figured out that they can perch on the feeder themselves and get direct access to the sunflower hearts.
Mourning Doves Zenaida macroura are always present, sometimes as many as six individuals; they are often the first birds to arrive at first light. One of them would make a fine meal for a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
House Sparrow Passer domesticus attends in small numbers and has shown a particular fondness for suet, but it does not hesitate to take seed also. This male seems to be rearranging his feathers.
Nuthatches, as everyone knows, are among the acrobats of the avian world, and this White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis seems perfectly adept at feeding on suet by hanging upside down.
American Goldfinch is by far the most numerous species we have at the feeders, sometimes as many as thirty all jousting for position and squabbling as they are wont to do. They seem to have remained yellower than normal all winter and look quite wonderful against a snowy backdrop.
Black-capped Chickadee Poecile atricapillus is never far away and feeds on every feeder at one time or another. This species bred in one of our nest boxes last year and a couple of times I have seen them apparently checking it out. Perhaps this is just casual behaviour with no specific meaning, for it seems far too early for pair bonds to have been cemented, let alone to have nest selection underway.
Red-bellied Woodpecker Melanerpes carolinus has never been a regular visitor to our yard so we were especially delighted when this male showed up one day. Fortunately Miriam had her camera at the ready and was able to memorialize the visit.
And so we have a real cross section of our winter species coming to the garden and we are happy to see them all, not the least of which is our "very own" Sharp-shinned hawk.
I hope to be looking out the window when she arrives today.