Red-Winged Blackbirds and Cowbirds

Male Cardinal

Red-Winged Blackbird at Suet Feeder

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Goldfinches

Meadowlark, a Sparrow and two unidentified birds

Chickadee eating suet

Mourning Doves

Brewer’s Blackbird

A Jumble of Red-Winged Blackbirds

Goldfinch and Mockingbird

We seem to have reached the time
of year when
the birds are hungry.
One friend says her backyard
is like an airport.
I can hardly pull myself away
from the windows
where flocks of Meadlowlarks
and Red-Winged Blackbirds
and Goldfinches come to eat
the seeds I’ve spread on ground
and put in feeders.
I’m learning how to put out the seed
so that the littler birds get some.
I fill finch feeders,
with their tiny holes,
with thistle seed;
the big birds can’t get food from
the small holes.
The wee Chickadees
like the seeds the big birds eat
and the suet,
but they seem adept at flying in between
the big birds’ landings
and quickly grabbing their single seed,
again and again.
I also make sure I put out seed on the ground
at twilight. The little birds
come to eat then and first thing in the morning.
Only a handful of the bigger birds
show up at those hours.
I’ve added a second finch feeder
and a big block of seed in the backyard,
where Pheasant, Meadowlarks and the black birds
sort through the straw in the garden.

In company with the birds,
I am constantly amused
and surprised.
Seeing new birds is a thrill.
One day there was a small flock
of fat little two-tone, richly-hued brown birds
that I have yet to identify.
Seems like they belong
to the sparrow family,
but I’m not sure.
There are a couple of shiny, iridescent black birds—
Brewer’s Blackbird, our friend Dave reports.
There’s a black bird with white markings
on breast and tail;
looks like a mis-marked Red-Winged Blackbird,
but I am not certain.
I screeched out loud myself
when I saw a Mockingbird at the water bowl.
Do they winter here now?

Great flocks cover the ground,
a jumble of movement
pecking at seeds;
then suddenly they fly up into the trees
to wait until it’s safe again—
which usually isn’t long.
I have yet this winter to see a cat succeed
in catching a bird.
When the black birds and larks fly up,
there is often one Meadowlark still standing
there on the ground,
looking up,
as if to say “Where did everyone go?”
I’ve seen this happen repeatedly
and have begun to wonder if the Meadowlark
is deaf and doesn’t hear the warning call.

I saw a Downy Woodpecker for the first time
a month or so ago,
just for a day.
The Woodpeckers who live here
are the Red-Bellied ones,
though that seems a misnomer
because their bellies look white
and their heads, red.
Yesterday,
I stopped in my tracks
when I looked out
and finally saw the pink belly
of the Woodpecker,
exposed there,
as it hung from the suet feeder.
Again, it was I
who screeched,
in delight.
No wonder
I like winter:
The fine feathery friends
come close.