We live in a rural area with a large field behind us and wooded swaths about half a mile north and we get a lot of birds. All winter we have cardinals, sparrows, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, gold finches, juncos, mourning doves, purple finches plus the odd blackbird, blue jay and robin and lots of woodpeckers and flickers and even a hawk or two.
All summer we have the same birds, except more robins and no juncos, plus grosbeaks and orioles, bluebirds, hummingbirds and catbirds. I get to sit at my desk and watch the birds while petting George. Nice life, yes?
During spring and fall it gets even more interesting because we have so many short time visitors, birds with things to do and places to go. The hummingbirds should arrive in the next couple weeks – check out this map of their 2017 migration – and even more hummers stop by the feeders in the fall on their way south.
I just saw a rufous sided towhee, at least that’s what I think he is. It snowed yesterday and it’s cold, wet and icky out and this bird was on the ground eating the suet and seed that fell. He hopped around a bit, always with his side to me, not his front, then left. At first I thought it was the brick-red orchard oriole, but it is so early, over six weeks before they usually arrive. When he came back I saw white spots on his tail, which rules out the oriole who has a solid black tail.
This photo shows a towhee from the front. Looking straight on you see the white breast, while looking at him on the ground the white is far enough down that you see more the reddish color.
Towhees are supposed to be fairly common in our area, although I’ve never seen one here before today. (Maybe the snow drove him to our nice full feeder.)
I started writing this post expecting to cover some of the transients we see, such as the white crowned sparrow and several finches that come for a few days, eat and rest up before flying further north. But the new visitor towhee made a nice surprise! I hope he stays.