Busy Day at the Bird Feeder

It’s a grey day, and the snow has been coming down hard since last night. And when it snows, there are lots of hungry customers for the bird feeders in the back garden.

Northern flicker and female cardinal.
Northern flicker and female cardinal.

Cardinals, goldfinches, house finches, and chickadees crowd around the platform feeder for sunflower seeds, with occasional forays to the peanut feeders. Woodpeckers drop in frequently for a bite or two of suet, or maybe a peanut.

Northern flicker
Northern flicker wonders if the snow will ever stop.

Today’s guest of honor, though, is the northern flicker. Normally a fairly shy bird, he is now quite comfortable feeding right in front of our porch window. Handsome  fellow, isn’t he?

Northern Flicker
Northern flicker swallows a big bite of suet. Yum!

Yesterday I poured a generous serving of sunflowers onto the platform feeder. Today, however, I found that the platform was covered with several inches of snow. So I dumped the snow and the seeds onto the ground, and added more sunflower.  Even so, the snow keeps falling, seemingly determined to cover up everything.

Cardinal, house finch (or is it a purple finch?), and goldfinch in the Deutzia bush. Can you see all three?

Every 15 minutes or so a bird alarm goes off, and everybody scrambles for cover. They particularly like to hang out in a dense nearby Deutzia bush until the coast is clear.

Goldfinch drinks at the bird jaccuzzi.

The heated bird bath (AKA the bird jaccuzzi) is also busy. It requires less energy to drink water than to eat snow to stay hydrated.

Starlings taking a bath
Starlings taking a bath


2014-01-01 15.30.30

A group of starlings decided it was a good day for bathing.

Are the birds hungry in your garden?

47 Comments on “Busy Day at the Bird Feeder

    • The new year is getting off to a rough start. It’s supposed to snow on and off through the weekend and then head into subzero temps. I want to go back to Texas!

      • Let me know if there is extra room in that car headed south. It’s 1 right now, fresh snow to be plowed, and the temps are headed down, way down from here. Stay warm. :-)

  1. Your weather is our weather, and they’re saying we could see a foot of snow tomorrow followed by a good below zero blast just to get any thoughts of a January thaw out of our minds.
    The Northern Flicker is one of my favorite birds-a real beauty.

    • Well, December was pretty mild here so they are making up for that now. I think the flicker is my favorite of the year-round birds. Of the migrants, my favorite would be the Baltimore oriole.

  2. Loved seeing your birds, especially the Northern flicker. I haven’t seen one in many years. Stay warm. No snow here but expecting frigid cold on Friday.

    • I never saw a northern flicker before we moved into our current house. We are bracing ourselves for subzero cold that is expected for next week.

  3. Wasn’t it a crummy day to be outside! But the birds have no choice. You got some great pictures. Love the Flicker. I had one Starling too later this afternoon – looked like he was going to bathe but changed his mind. Went for the peanut feeder instead.

    • It was crummy and it looks like the crumminess will continue for a while. But these are the times when the bird feeders are really needed, and we are rewarded with some fine backyard bird watching.

      • Agreed. I feel good about feeding birds all the time but now it does seem really crucial. Also the availability of unfrozen water is important. Wonder what the blizzard will blow into your yard this year… :-)

  4. No snow here for a while but lots of birds to enjoy. The only ones I don’t see regularly since I stopped filling feeders about a year ago are Northern Flickers. Lots of hummers (still do those feeders) and other birds seem to be interested in something in my garden. Happy New Year!

  5. They are!!! They have been feasting on berries right by our kitchen window! My kids really enjoy seeing the female cardinal that stops by! They like her orange beak! Your shots are fantastic! And how lucky those birds are to have a warm bath available to them after feasting at their feeders!!!

  6. I’m so jealous of the variety of birds you have! I sometimes think we just have 3 or 4 different kinds of birds in our neighborhood…then again…I’m not great at ID’ing them…so who knows!

  7. I love this bird jacuzzi!The snow is around and birds can take warm bath, magnificent!Happy New Year Jason!

  8. The winter has apparently decided to stay away here. We haven´t had any snow yet, and the temperatures are above zero all the time. So the birds are not really hungry. The sunflower seeds get eaten, but all the other stuff lasts forever.
    It looks really beautiful the Northern Flicker.
    At least we don´t have the heat the birdbath.

  9. What amazing birds you have .there, I’ve never even heard of a northern flicker and that cardinal is beautiful. But oh dear, it looks cold out there.

  10. We are to get a lot of snow in the next few days, it really does bring out the birds. What a nice selection you get in your garden. Are you getting the cold weather as well? It is too cold here to even go out and fill the feeders!

    • The bitter cold is supposed to come on Monday. I usually brave even the really nasty weather to fill the feeders. Fortunately the only only one that needs frequent refilling is the sunflowers.

    • Thanks. They like plain suet, which I buy in cakes. You don’t really need the kind mixed with peanuts, which attracts a lot of nuisance birds. They also like shelled peanuts.

  11. I love the Flickers but we see them more frequently in summer. I’d love to get cardinals! Lately I’ve had lots of little birds to my suet feeder after I discovered hot pepper suet. Strange but true: birds can’t taste it, and aren’t bothered by the hot pepper, but it isn’t appealing to squirrels and raccoons – perfect!!

    • Luckily the squirrels are kept off the feeders with our squirrel baffle. I guess the cardinals have not heard about the good life in the PNW.

  12. What a fabulous group of exotic visitors you have, the flickers and cardinals are stunning. what a joy it must be in such thick snow to be able to have a warm drink and a hot bath, I’m glad you are there to take such good care of them.Your weather sounds dismal.xxx

  13. Great pictures, looks like the birds are really enjoying the picnic.
    We’re big on mourning doves, house sparrows, and house finches this year. The one day I counted over thirty doves!

    • We do have many house sparrows, but I prefer to ignore them. Some mourning doves too, I always think they sound like they need some WD-40 when they fly away.

  14. How lucky to have a flicker right outside your window. I bet the birds are happy with all the food in your yard with all the snow we’re getting. And the winter spa!

  15. I am not familiar with several of the birds on the West coast where we are just now, but I have identified a Golden-crowned Kinglet a house wren and a Western Towhee. We do have lots of flickers at our place, but I do not think they hibernate with us.

  16. We have far less birds at our feeders this winter, I think as its been so mild here – we have had one frost and plenty of gales and driving rain and lots of berries are still available in the surrounding countryside. Really lovely photos from your garden, the Northern Flicker is a new bird to me, thanks for sharing.

  17. Love the cardinal, have never seen one around here. We have a pair of northern flickers that have been hanging around our place since the spring, but try as I might, I haven’t been able to successfully photograph them. I’ve noticed many more flickers in the city in the past few years.

    • It’s interesting that the Flickers have become more common in your area. Here the downy is the most commonly seen woodpecker.

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