Monday, 25 December 2017

Christmas Day Chez Nous

25 December 2017

     We enjoyed Christmas Day with family yesterday so Miriam and I were quite happy to spend the day at home today, particularly given the amount of snow that had fallen overnight. 

     Today would not be an ideal day for travel. I made sure that the bird feeders were all topped up, however, and we were treated throughout the day to a variety of species, included a Sharp-shinned Hawk (Accipiter striatus) that menaced the other birds, but left as quickly as it came before we could get a camera on it.
     American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis) is by far the most common species in the back yard and at times we have around thirty of them all jostling for position at the feeders.

     Some have to patiently wait their turn in the trees.

     The collective name for a group of goldfinches is a "charm," and we certainly concur with that epithet.
     No less charming, however, is a House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus); witness this male on a branch.

    Up to a half dozen Mourning Doves (Zenaida macroura) are generally present, and they are often the first birds to arrive at sunup. They seem content to perch for a while and wait for the messy finches to strew seed on the snow where the Mourning Doves descend to feed.

     American Grey Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is never far from an easy meal.

     At least two White-breasted Nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis) frequent the feeders, possibly three, sometimes feeding and at other times retrieving seeds to stash away as emergency rations when the grip of winter really tightens.

     Of late a couple of American Crows (Corvus brachyrynchos) have been visiting on a fairly regular basis and we hope that we can encourage these wonderful intelligent birds to feel at home with us.

     We save all the fat we trim from meat and freeze it. When we have enough we put it outside in a feeder and it is well patronized by Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens).
     The birds never fly in directly to the feeder but always land at an intermediate point.

     Once they drop onto the feeder, however, they feed for a while.

     Our feeders always provide us with an endless source of enjoyment and not a little education in the process. It will soon be time to visit the feed mill to replenish our supplies. The rewards are well worth the investment.
     On a completely different note, Miriam found this gem which is worthwhile sharing with everyone.


  1. Hari OM
    LOL that clip is brilliant. As are your shots of a busy Christmas feast! YAM xx

  2. Wow! Look at all of that snow! The video is hilarious. I'm going to be humming the tune all day though. Catchy. ;-)

  3. Very similar group of birds + squirrel and a little extra snow here.

  4. Very nice selection of garden birds.

  5. Hola David. Maravilloso disfrutar de vuestros vecinos, se ve que los tratáis muy bien. Enhorabuena por tanto amor por las hermosas aves. Un fuerte abrazo.

  6. Hi Both
    Good fall of snow for you, we have had a relatively mild Christmas day, getting colder today. Super selection of birds having Christmas luncheon. Super video Miriam.
    All the best, John

  7. Snow, so many wonderful birds, a squirrel is a real feast for the eyes. Greetings.

  8. Hello, I like the "charm" of Goldfinches. I am not seeing many finches here, I do love the cute woodpecker. I am sure the birds are happy to visit your yard and feeders. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas! Have a happy day and week ahead.

  9. Lucky you to have so many goldfinches around. I enjoy seeing them. Looks like you got a lot of snow. We actually saw a couple of flakes mixed with very cold rain a couple of days ago. Oklahoma doesn't usually get much snow and when it does, it isn't around very long. I hear from family we got quite a bit of snow in Illinois. Stay warm! Happy Tuesday!

  10. I am hoping that our neighbour is keeping a close watch on our feeders in France or I am going to have some unhappy birds on or return! Like the idea of freezing the fat then putting it in to a feeder. I do put fat into a pot and hang it by the window, but the stray cats around us are a nuisance!!!!
    Love your photos and I would happily look out at these scenes if we had a warm house here to look out of. We have had the guy in to tweak the radiators and life is a little better, but having now planned to replace the radiators it will only be done in January, so we will miss out! By then we will be home in France in a warm house :-) I hope!!
    Take care and all the best for 2018 Diane

    1. Hi Diane: I don't have much of a problem with cats, fortunately, but the squirrels can be a bit of a problem sometimes. In late fall a posse of marauding raccoons was making the rounds at night and the feeders were knocked down and emptied and I took to bringing them in each night and putting them back out in the morning. Raccoons don't totally hibernate, but when it it cold like this, they go into torpor in their holes, so they are not an issue at present. In order to for you to keep warm, I hereby command Nigel to snuggle up a little closer and pour brandy down your throat! What else you get up to is up to you!

  11. Lovely to feed the birds in winter time.
    We have a very small pond in our backyard and a few birds come and have a bath, it's always fascinating to watch them especially the wee little ones.

  12. I believe that the video may actually be a documentary! I think it would be reasonable to say that our garden bird list may not have much overlap! Nice.

    Cheers (and hope you had a good Christmas) - Stewart M - Melbourne

  13. I love your new header, David.

    I'm also impressed by the wonderful array of birds you're getting in your garden. I can see that you work at it, so they are well-deserved.

    With love and best wishes for 2018 to you both - - - Richard

  14. So beautiful David, the snow and the birds, I love them.

  15. Ooh, you changed your header photo. Very nice. :-)

  16. I like your blog header, it is beautiful! It must be freezing cold with so much snow! The birds are happy coming to the feeder even in the snow! Nice video clip!

  17. Hi David. Looks like your Christmas was spent with a lens at hand. On seeing that header I thought at first you were in some exotic location rather than downtown Waterloo! What a great variety you have there with the help of your leftovers. Better than our bird list at the moment where I'm struggling to get better than a few Blackbirds and goldfinches. It's too mild and it seems that 2017 was the warmest on record but they forgot to say that the warmest = the wettest.

    Have a good New Year and drink a toast to Better Birding in 2018.

  18. I do like your header photograph.

    You do have a lot of snow ...
    Another great selection of birds, I'm always amazed at their wonderful colours.
    Enjoyed seeing the squirrel too.

    Glad you had a good Christmas, enjoy these last December days and I wish you and yours a Happy and Healthy 2018.

    All the best Jan

  19. Hello David, your header capture is stunning! Than all that snow ... you realy had a white Christmas. We heard on the news that Canada and the North of Amerika is having a winter that has not ocured for many years. Lots of snow and freezing temperatures. They say it is even colder than on the North Pole. I do hope the North Pole will be that cold as well. Good for ice that is good for the Polar bears. Lovely to see you have so much gardenbirds coming at your feeders.
    Wishing you and Miriam all the best, health and lots of birding in the New Year.
    Warm regards,

  20. You know I would never have guessed that there were different names for groups of birds dependent on species. I assumed all would just be called a flock. Very cool to read that the collective name for a group of goldfinches is a "charm."

  21. Hello dear David,
    I enjoyed your photos in this blog of all birds and also of the squirrel and the snow. I thank you for your leive messages and your sympathy for the death of my dear grandson Jahnay. The grief is still very much present but I want to wish you a very nice tip and a good start to the new year 2018.
    I keep reading you.
    Kind regards, Helma

  22. Our cats have been way too cold to go outdoors. We have clever birds, too! Lovely photos.

  23. That looks like a perfect way to spend a snowy day, Christmas or any day. And the You Tube made me ... well, I don't exactly know what ... smile wryly/ cry/laugh/wish for olden times ??? It just gets worse doesn't it?