We spent the past week at home with the flu. I took up residence in the sun room where I could nap in the warm sun and watch the birds at the feeder.
This morning, feeling much better, we were sitting in the sun room, sipping tea, and watching the birds. Yesterday I noticed junkos at the feeder in large numbers. Juncos tend to come down into town when storms threaten to make life in the mountains difficult. Given the paucity of storms this past winter, they have generally been absent from the feeder, and it was a joy to see them!
This morning they are still here, and their numbers have increased dramatically. They flit too and fro, the sharp contrast between their Payne’s gray and pure white wing feathers startlingly beautiful. They have been joined by a pair of yellow shafted flickers, puffed up against the cold. We seldom see them at the feeder so their presence is a treat. There are also a pair of hairy woodpeckers, and for the first time this spring, the male goldfinches are showing just a hint of yellow.
The mixed flock of birds that visits the feeder throughout the winter is growing and diversifying, and the feeder empties as we watch. Later, I’ll go out and fill it again. Many of our overwinter birds are already brooding, and the return of cold weather puts considerable stress on the breeding pairs; their nutrient needs increase as they raise chicks, and during cold weather. By early June we stop feeding, assuming the environment will provide plenty of nutrients, but right now the birds depend on us to maintain a steady flow of seed.
Beyond the feeder, the maples in the woods are showing color in the top branches, just the hint of the spring reds and oranges to come before leaf out. There are also patches of newly green vegetation showing in the understory. Closer to the house, the lilacs are leafing out, and the first crocuses are in bloom. The tulips are showing leaves in the side garden, and the yellow forsythia branches nod in the breeze. Clearly, winter is waning and spring is on the rise. Soon the world will be filled with color, although probably not this week.