At my home, the window with the view of the bird feeder is my favorite window. If you have one of these views in your home, I would imagine you delight in the surprises and tranquility it can bring. As the seasons change, the tiny feathered visitors change also.
A Glance of Winter Birding at Home
At my home, the window with the view of the bird feeder is my favorite window. If you have one of these views in your
home, I would imagine you delight in the surprises and tranquility it can bring. As the seasons change, the tiny
feathered visitors change also. They CHANGE in different ways. The change may be traveling species that pass by, or
the change may be the individual bird colors.
Changes Because of Migration
At times we get glimpses of visiting migrating birds that are making their way north during spring or south during fall.
Different species travel at different times of the year. Here in Ohio one of the biggest migration spectacles that is known
worldwide is The Biggest Week in American Birding at Magee Marsh presented by the wonderful people of the Black
Swamp Bird Observatory. Mark your calendars, the event will be May 4-13, 2018. During May every year the
absolutely stunning small song birds stop at the marshes along Lake Erie’s coast eating and resting before they take the
big flight north over the Lake. You can see these birds all over Ohio, even in your back yard and neighborhood parks. A
few of these spring migrators are the vivid colored warblers, vireos, and thrushes. Not every song bird migrates that
far, but there is a massive amount that do. Specifically, a Blackpoll Warbler, which summers in Canada and Alaska and
winters in South America, is one of the longest distance non-stop migratory songbird. Some small birds like the Dark-
eyed Juncos can be seen at your feeders during the winter time. Juncos spend the summer up in Canada and Alaska.
Changes Because of Feathers
Many birds change colors. Some juvenile birds remind me of children that play in the dirt and may have a lot of brown
or grey and lack bright colors. As birds grow to adulthood they may gain a variety of colors and patterns. As for our
national bird the Bald Eagle, they do not get their adult plumage with the white head until 4 or 5 years old. The boldest
liveliest colors are mostly worn by males to attract the female birds. For song birds, they show off with their breeding
colors during the spring time. Some ducks will have their charming mating colors on in winter. Some of Ohio’s gulls
will have breeding plumage on during April to August. Our common shorebirds have breeding colors on during March
through September. Birds breed at different times, and therefore they have mating colors on at different times of the
The pictures below are Ring-billed Gull, Bonaparte’s Gull, Red-winged Blackbird, American Robin, and Baltimore Oriole:
Examples of female or adult non-breeding birds:
Examples of males with breeding colors:
Above: Notice the red orbital ring and gape (mouth lips behind bill) on the Ring-billed Gull. The Bonaparte’s Gull has the black head.
So, you see the birds at your feeder can change also, whether it’s the short visit of migrating birds or the year-round
birds that may change colors.
It happens to be winter right now as I write this. The other day I was very surprised to see what was in the tree by the
feeder. I almost missed this sight but on a second glance I noticed odd colors. To my delight I saw a flock of Cedar
Waxwings that were gathered amongst the leaves.
~ Kathy Murphy, Member, Western Cuyahoga Audubon
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