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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Spring Birds in Winter

Remember the polar vortex winter we had last year? This robin came to my window every cold morning of it with his feathers so puffed up he looked downright chubby. I fed him raisins for breakfast straight through until spring. He's back! He (or someone who looks just like him) started looking in my windows a few weeks ago and is back in the habit of breakfasting on raisins at my place. 
Robins eat worms and insects and fresh fruits and berries when they can get them. We typically see robins stalking worms in short grass all through summer. When winter comes and the insects and worms hole up, robins change to a diet primarily of dried fruit. Some robins migrate to warmer places, but some just disappear from lawns and form winter flocks that travel to different kinds of foraging areas. 

White-throated sparrows are behaving differently in deference to winter, too. They have started to show up on my porch where I haven't seen them since last winter. I see them in the neighborhood all year, but they only visit the porch in winter (even though they would likely find a snack of seeds in any season). Click to enlarge.
New York City's northern mockingbirds tend to stay put during the winter, but it might seem like they have gone south. We are used to their flashy wing-waving and tireless singing; in winter they become relatively quiet. They visit my porch for raisins. 
I usually hear my favorites, the blue jays, before I see them. I give them peanuts in the shell. They make repeated trips until they have gathered them all. But they have to share with...
Northern cardinals that always seem happy to pose in the snow in return for peanuts... 
and Brooklyn squirrels! 

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