November 21 – Magpies and Mallards, Mostly

The temperature today at our house began at 2 degrees and gradually inched up to 19 degrees by late afternoon. As far as I know, the coldest it has been here this winter is 1 degree a couple of days ago, but I think it will be colder soon, and of course, there will be more snow (a total of about 10 inches have fallen in our yard so far this winter).

After Sunday’s snow (a couple inches), birds have been even more eager for food than before. Every morning before it is light, I put out seed in the feeders and on the ground. Way before dawn the Pine Grosbeaks usually arrive, anywhere from one to 8 of them. They rarely say long, but do reappear periodically during the day, and usually are the last ones visible at night.

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The Magpies swoop in as it gets lighter and are generally around on and off all day, anywhere from two to eleven of them. They eat anything and everything. Often there is a magpie on each of the feeders, and a few on the ground and in the trees.

The Mallards usually don’t arrive until midday, but then they come in huge flocks, sometimes up to 90 at once (confirmed by a count on one of my photos)! Although they mostly sit on the ground with their feet tucked up in their feathers, and eat whatever feed they can reach from their sitting-spot, there are a couple of males that fly up to the platform feeders to eat sunflower seeds. All at once while they are eating, a few will lift their heads and start bobbing them, preparatory to a sudden take-off, and soon most or sometimes all of the rest will take off at the same time. Sometimes one or two remain for hours more, seemingly ignorant that the rest have departed.

Dark-eyed Juncos seem to come in briefly and infrequently, but they are around now (1-4 at a time).

Regularly throughout the day the Steller’s Jays, Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches appear. Rarer in our yard are the Common Ravens and Bohemian Waxwings (seen only 4 times so far this winter). Photos of a jay and waxwings lit by the sun are below.

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