Looking back, not forward: New Year’s Day 2014…

House Finches

House Finches

The weather exerted such force today it was hard to sit still, although I think without the help of a pot of coffee I might have given in to a long nap just in hope everything would be back to normal when I woke up.

Male Northern Cardinal, through the window

Male Northern Cardinal, through the window

Part of what kept me going was hoping my male cardinal would give me a picture in the snow, not that he ever has. So after I filled the feeders I hung out with the House Finches and Dark-Eyed Juncos for a while, and the Fox Squirrel too, until I could stay outside no longer.

Feeders New Years Day-1158

House Finches at the feeder

Dark-Eyed Junco

Dark-Eyed Junco

Fox Squirrel

Fox Squirrel

Later I went upstairs to get more winter work clothes (yes, it’s January and I’ve been in denial this long) and decided to look out the back to see if there were any birds other than those I had already calculated–only to find the snow falling steadily and squalling miserably.

Yard view from the attic

Yard view from the attic

As the available light deteriorated even further I finally settled down to the task of going through my pictures from the East Africa trip. As of today I have gone through only three days worth of photos from a trip that lasted three weeks!  And I thought I’d be done by now!

One more through the porch windows

But I must say after looking at enough birds like these Bee-Eaters, I wanted to stay with the photos, not face the reality of trudging off to the train in the snow and cold tomorrow morning.

Cinnamon-Chested Bee-Eater

Cinnamon-Chested Bee-Eater

Click on any of the photos for a better view..

Little Bee-Eater-4653.jpg-4653

Little Bee-Eater with bug

Hope to return soon with more photos and less snow! …Happy New Year!!

Snow set

The minute it started to snow, I wanted to get a picture of the Black-Throated Blue Warbler downtown if he was still around, against the snow, my imagination seeing his slate-blueness dramatically incongruous against the white background, but it was not meant to be. The last time I saw him was Thursday when the storm started – he darted out from the bush hideout for a second or two and vanished. But while I was waited for  him to show up again, there were other birds.

White-Throated Sparrow

Indeed, the sparrows are making a killing on the food donations, intended for them but also intended to keep the Black-Throated Blue from starving to death. I had brought him dried caterpillars the first day but I think they got buried under the snow. The sparrows didn’t seem to know what to make of them.

another White-Throated Sparrow

So the question now is whether BT Blue took off for warmer climes, deciding correctly that snow was not part of his heritage, or if he is digging for bugsicles down in his bunker underneath a bush somewhere, ready to venture out only when the weather turns more hospitable.

Downy Woodpeckers don’t migrate, no matter how inclement the weather. They’re equipped to find food and they don’t feel threatened by a photographer.

Male Downy Woodpecker, Millennium Park

Friday when I got off the train after most of the snow had fallen, my attention was drawn to these bicycles.

Saturday I put up the last new feeder in the yard – my final response to the warning from the city that I am allowed only two feeders. Let’s see, with the peanut feeder, the hopper, the woodpecker suet feeder, the thistle feeder and three thistle socks, that makes 8 feeders. Perfect!

platform feeder - black oil sunflower seeds only

The Black-Capped Chickadee was the first bird to discover the platform feeder, followed by the House Finches. But here he is endorsing the Audubon feeder.

Black-Capped Chickadee

The House Finches are more numerous this year. I have four pairs, at least.

House Finches, two males and a female

This beautiful male is also endorsing the Audubon feeder.

Male House Finch

I haven’t seen any goldfinches all weekend, I don’t know what happened to them. I wish someone had told me there wouldn’t be very many this year, I would not have stocked up on thistle seed at the Chicago Audubon sale. I’ll have to find a cool, dry place to store it in the spring. In previous years it was all I could do to keep the goldfinch hoards happy.

American Goldfinches

The cardinals visit but they elude my camera. This was the best I could come up with last week, before the snow.

Male Northern Cardinal

There are four juncos who visit regularly. This is the first time I’ve seen one on the roof. Usually they’re foraging on the ground, but they were visiting the platform feeder too.

Dark-Eyed Junco

Here are four of the 23 Mourning Doves on the ground with a Grey Squirrel.

Mourning Doves and Grey Squirrel

And Lady Downy, as I call her, visits the new peanut feeder that is too small for the squirrels to hang on (hooray!). I think I’ll have to leave it out for her and Lord Downy this week, albeit in defiance of the city’s regulations, as we are promised more cold and snow. I’ll bring in the platform feeder and clean it, and maybe take down some of those less used thistle socks. But let’s hope the inspectors have something better to do than count the feeders in my yard. If only I could get them interested in counting birds (citizen science)!

Female Downy Woodpecker