Nothing brightens a gray winter day faster than a flock of colorful birds at a feeder.
Northern cardinals are wary birds. If you see one flicking its tail or whistling sharp chip calls, it’s probably worried about something. Perhaps the neighbor’s cat is prowling around?
Chickadees are bold, curious birds. With lots of patience and a steady hand, you can coax a chickadee to eat seeds from your palm.
Even though they’re small, white-breasted nuthatches are feisty! When one lands at a feeder, it often swings its long, sharp beak like a sword to drive away other birds.
Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks sometimes swoop down to pluck songbirds from feeders. This pile of feathers is all that’s left from a hawk’s supper. It’s OK to feel sorry for the songbird. Just remember that hawks need to eat, too.
A tufted titmouse will often flit down, grab a seed, and dash away. At a safe perch, the big-eyed bird will hold the seed with its feet and use its beak to hammer open the seed’s shell.
If an American crow visits your feeder, it may leave a “gift” for you. Crows have been known to replace the seeds they take with bottle caps, shiny wrappers, buttons, and other small bits of trash they have collected.
You can guess a blue jay’s mood by looking at the crest of feathers on top of its head. A happy jay keeps its crest down. An angry or worried jay raises its crest high.
The boss bird in a flock of darkeyed juncos feeds in the center where it’s safest. You may see juncos lunge at each other and flick open their tails. This is how they figure out who is in charge.
At night, you might hear a high-pitched tseet or musical chirping at your feeder. Most songbirds don’t eat after dark, so the chatter is probably from a flying squirrel that has glided down from the treetops to swipe some seeds.
Angie Daly Morfeld