The day before Thanksgiving, a Pineapple Express weather system powered through here, with strong southerly winds and warm air. Thanksgiving Day was positively balmy. And windy. Friday a big chill moved in, and in the wee hours of Saturday morning a cold, beautiful white blanket fell over the south end of Whidbey Island. Two to six inches thick, depending on exact location. And VERY cold, with night-time temperatures over the next few days dropping below twenty degrees.
So it’s remarkable that the small winged creatures are able to survive. Especially this one ~
My garden is busy in these conditions with a considerable variety of Feathered Friends; all of them catch my attention as they go about the business of eating the seeds, suet, and sugar-water I provide liberally. Many are inspiration for color combinations in my weaving. Here are some of my favorites ~
and the female. I’ve had a small flock of these, one of my favorite songbirds, staying around for a couple of weeks. Never happened before. They’ve been eating the winged seeds from many of the Japanese Maples, and have been using a favorite bathing basin in an obscure area of the front garden. They are endlessly beautiful and engaging.
The Spotted Towhee is primarily a ground feeder, one of the cadre that cleans up below the seed feeders, but in this cold weather they often make brief forays onto the suet feeder though they’re clearly not comfortable there for long.
The Mourning Dove is also a ground feeder, and a small flock comes in very early, long before sunrise, and gets a head start on the seed pick-up. There are more of them right now, as the much larger and somewhat bullying Eurasian Collared Doves (an invader from the south) have disappeared, likely because they haven’t acclimatized to the cold.
The Varied Thrush, close cousin to the American robin, generally only appears in this garden in cold weather, and prefers to eat now-ripe berries on some of my shrubs and trees (Hawthorne especially). An utterly gorgeous bird.
There are also Pine Siskins, Dark-eyed Juncos (lots), various sparrows, House Finches, Black-Capped Chickadees, Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, Common Bushtits, Golden-Crowned (or Ruby-Crowned) Kinglets, and probably others I don’t even notice or can’t identify.
And just down the road, this pair has already begun to refurbish their nest for the coming season ~