Feeding Frenzy

The snow continues. I measured 12″ in the backyard this morning, and a few more inches are expected. Not record snowfall by any means, but it feels like a lot. Once again I had to trudge out to the platform feeder to dump the snow and lay down fresh sunflower seeds.

Cardinal waiting for me to bring out more sunflower seeds.
Cardinal waiting for me to bring out more sunflower seeds.

backyard bird feeder in winter

It’s cold right now, but the bitter cold isn’t expected to arrive until tonight. The predicted low for tomorrow is -13 F.

The woodpeckers have an annoying habit of eating suet only out of the top hole in the feeder, leaving the bottom two relatively untouched. Then Judy and I have an argument about whether I should refill the top hole. My position is that the woodpeckers should not expect me to refill the top hole when the feeder still has plenty of perfectly good suet. I usually lose this argument.

Cardinal, goldfinches, and house sparrows.
Cardinal, goldfinches, and house sparrows.

You get the feeling the birds know what is coming, and they are gulping down as many calories as they can to fortify themselves against the frigid temperatures.

Can anybody tell what kind of hawk this is?
I think this is a red tailed hawk. Can anyone tell for sure?

Red tailed hawk

The hawks are also hungry. (The light was pretty bad, so these pictures are not very sharp.)

Deutzia bush full of cardinals, juncos, etc.
Deutzia bush full of cardinals, juncos, etc.

When there is a predator alarm the songbirds fly off to their preferred perching spot. At these times the Deutzia is full of a whole crowd of birds looking as if they were expecting a play or sporting event to get started.

Squirrels in snow
The squirrels we shall always have with us.

I throw a few sunflower seeds and peanuts on the ground for the squirrels. Plus the birds are very messy eaters, and they drop quite a few seeds.

2014-01-05 12.26.57_2

And now I am out of sunflower seeds, so I am making an emergency run for more. Stay warm, everybody.

50 Comments on “Feeding Frenzy

  1. What endless snow you are having, but what gorgeous birds. The squirrel looks as if he has been in an accident. He has lost half his tail. Or do you have short tailed squirrels there?

    • I just noticed that about the squirrel! Actually, I have seen him before. I’m guessing it was an accident, as you say, as I have never seen another short tailed squirrel.

  2. Wow and there is me moaning about rain, wind and feeling cold at around 4c.
    You have an amazing amount of birds visiting your feeders.
    As you say stay warm

    • Thank you, I will try. We have been feeding birds for a number of years and the quantity and diversity of birds has gradually increased.

  3. As I am now legally blind I can’t see the tail well enough to be sure but your Accipiters is either a Cooper’s or a Sharp-shinned hawk. Maryann Gossmann, Montgomery, IL _avocetmtg@aol.com_ (mailto:avocetmtg@aol.com)

  4. Looks like your birds are getting first-class treatment… hope you’re keeping warm and stocking up on calories too! 😉

  5. Cooper’s Hawk, adult. Dark cap barring. Check in your bird book. I think you will find it there.

  6. Looks like a cooper or sharp shin hawk. They prey on songbirds at the feeders and are smaller hawks. I saw your forecast…ouch! Stay safe and warm. We are getting freezing rain and then rain…followed by lake effect snow ( that means about a foot or more) and -30 windchills for a couple of days…

    • Sounds like an ouch for you, too! Good luck managing the snow and cold – you too should remember to stay safe and warm. Just got word here that the public schools and many offices including mine will be closed tomorrow.

  7. Thinking of you, we have endless rain here, but never experience the quantity of snow or sub zero temperatures you do. Keep warm.

  8. I believe you have a Sharp-shinned hawk. The tail looks squared off and the head looks smaller. I know many have said otherwise. Birds do know when a storm is approaching and feed accordingly. You have such low temps in Chicago, it is a feeding frenzy at the feeders. I am sure you will be out filling and filling. Stay warm Jason.

    • My office and just about everything else is closed today. I haven’t gone to refill the feeders yet today (the heated birdbath also needs fresh water) but I think I’ll try in an hour or two.

    • -15 is the temp here at the moment. I imagine many of the animals don’t survive, especially if these temps last very long.

  9. Nice shots! I feed the birds too. My husband says the birds have posted my portrait on the walls of their homes!

  10. Things look great at the feeder, ours here was also hopping all day too.
    Rain for us tonight and then we get the cold. It’s not supposed to go much below zero but being that it went up to 40 today I don’t know how the drop will effect the birds and friends. Keep warm!

    • You too! I think the wildlife is better equipped to handle the weather than we are, but that’s just another good reason why we live in houses.

  11. You stay warm too Jason! Ha…those woodpeckers are always throwing a wrench in things! My dad has one that drills holes in the side of house every year! Drives him crazy!! And yes I can sense the animals know what is coming too. The shot of your hawk is so cool! Take care!! Nicole

    • Ours don’t drill in the side of the house (vinyl siding) but they do drill on the second story railing. Not sure what they expect to find in there …

  12. One of the advantages (or possibly the only one!) of having an awful winter like that is the wildlife you can see in the garden. Pretty boring here as it’s so warm. Take care and stay warm, Jason. PS: Can you put some of these awesome cardinals in the post? I just adore them!

    • I’ll be sure to post more pictures of cardinals. A while back I did a post called “Cardinals in the Snow”, did you get a chance to see that?

  13. Hey Jason! Starting my Monday morn at 42 degrees, high to be 36 with dropping temps all day & expecting zero overnight! C’mon spring! Lots of different opinions on the hawk. I saw two of this same type on the phone wires a few days ago. Love all your pix! My feeder, like yours, just doesn’t stay filled long. I even had a pair of crows pecking at the suet yesterday. Stay safe & warm. Gin

  14. While others are running out stocking up on milk and bread we wildlife gardeners are stocking up on bird seed, LOL! I love the shots of the squirrels in the snow. It is amazing how they can still find food buried down in the snow. Stay warm my friend and be careful on those roads!

  15. Great pictures, you have a good variety of visitors, although how you managed to stand outside long enough to take the pictures is beyond me, it was blowing and blizzardy yesterday. My consensus is it’s either a Sharp-Shinned or a Cooper’s, it does look a bit more like a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, which is a bit less common, although maybe not in your yard! Stay warm… 🙂

    • We see hawks intermittently but I’m never sure exactly what kind they are. For some reason I find them especially difficult to ID. You stay warm also!

  16. That is a LOT of snow Jason, I didn’t realise that you lived somewhere with so much snow in winter. Keep safe and warm; I bet the birds are really happy you put out so many goodies for them.

    • We do sometimes get massive amounts of snow. It is a mixed blessing, to be sure. But it does make for some beautiful tableaux, especially with the birds.

  17. Gosh, I’m shivering looking at these pics! What a stunning array of wildlife though, I’m so glad you’re taking such good care of them all, it must be hard trying to find food in the snow. Love your hawk and the squirrels.xxx

  18. I enjoyed your snowy shots! And that one red cardinal amongst all the other birds! I had to laugh a little at the snow covered squirrels.

  19. Ain’t this fun! You guys actually had it worse in Chicago with this one, because you had the snowstorm AND the polar vortex!! Fortunately (really, am I saying this?), we only have the polar vortex. Stay warm, Jason! Thinking about you guys and all my other friends and family throughout the Midwest. We can break out the T-shirts this weekend. Woo-hoo!

    • I don’t know, a polar vortex just isn’t the same without a snowstorm to go along with it. You stay warm also, Beth! Can’t wait for the temps to go above freezing during the weekend so we can have the Festival of Slush!

  20. We have been negligent with our feeders this winter. There are lots of flowers with seeds on them, but we still usually put out safflower seeds and suet.

    You asked me about when hellebores bloom here. They are one of the first to bloom, I’m thinking in late March or April.

  21. Crumbs. Your snow is beautiful from our grey, wet January, but you must be beginning to wish it would melt. You are looking after such a variety of wildlife through your cold snap, keep up the good work!

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