Some Winter Visitors In My Backyard

Some Winter Visitors In My Backyard

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With the arrival of the cold weather and short days of winter I haven’t been taking my afternoon hikes in Community Park or the coal reclamation  lands near my home here in Hazle Township, Luzerne County. I now  take my afternoon walks  on the streets in  my neighborhood. My wildlife observation is  limited to my weekend hikes and watching the winter visitors in my back yard. Winter is not my favorite season. 

However, I do get enjoyment  watching the birds and other critters  that visit my backyard  throughout the cold and dark winter months. The most common and frequent winter visitors to my birdfeeders are the black-capped chickadees. These small, cute birds travel in flocks,  are very curious and not shy of human folk. They often  wait in the tree tops while I refill the feeders and start feeding while I am climbing down the ladder. I need a ladder to fill the feeders  since I must keep them out of the reach of foraging bears in the warmer months. 

Another common bird that visit  my backyard feeders in the winter months are the dark-eyed juncos or snow birds. These  small birds also travel in flocks. They  breed in Canada but they migrate south to spend their winters here. They appear here in my backyard in late fall. Although they will fly onto the feeders they prefer to feed off seed I scatter on the ground for them and the sparrows. 

Also visiting my backyard are   native song sparrows

and the invasive house sparrows, which were  introduced into the United States in New York in 1851. Since then they  have  spread throughout the country and are  now one of our most  common birds.  Unfortunately, they  displace native birds and are  not my favorite visitors in my backyard.  But they, too, must eat, so I accept them. They are cute too. This is a female. 

Other winter visitors to my feeders are the downy woodpeckers. I see a lot of these in the winter. This is the male with the red spot on it’s head, 

and this the female. 

Tufted titmice , and

this a white-breasted nuthatches  are not as common as the other birds but are frequent visitors to the feeders too. 

One of my favorite winter birds  is the Carolina wren. I love this birds song. 

Occasionally American  crows, and

mourning doves also visit my backyard. 

And this occasional visitor, who I am sure  is not welcomed by his fellow feathered friends. It is, I believe, a Cooper’s hawk and the other birds are on it’s menu. 

When this fellow is in my backyard the other birds disappear real quick. 

I   have been scattering corn in my backyard since I built my house here 28 years ago. And I have always had a herd of healthy white-tailed  deer visit to feed. I am aware of the pros and cons of feeding deer corn, both the effects on there diet and health. I only toss out a few cups, and scatter it, more as a treat than a food source for these wild animals. I own about 90 acres of land and they are safe here from  hunters. This big buck, and a few others, took advantage of that safety, and a few bits of corn and showed up here last month.

It could have also been to visit the does that feed here every night, even in the snow. 

I have not seen the  big buck for a few weeks now. But some smaller bucks and a  heard of  about 11 doe and their  fawns  are regular winter visitors to  my back yard. 

I enjoy watching them in the evenings. 

 and their expressions and interactions as different families show up in my backyard. Now that their is a snow cover then tend to gather in a herd for the night, to keep warm and protect each other from predators.  Their are some coyotes in the area although I have never seen one in my backyard. 

One young buck has become increasingly friendly, or brazen and I found him feeding on the bird see I scatter for the juncos and sparrows. 

I haven’t seen a bear here since the fall although there was some bear scat in the yard a few weeks ago. And I haven’t seen the frequent summer furry critters that visit  my backyard, the rabbits, skunks, opossums, foxes and raccoon lately, The only mammals that now visit are the gray squirrels, who are also steal the  corn or birdseed I scatter for the birds and deer. 

These cute looking critters could be an annoyance and I try to discourage them from feeding on the seed and corn. I have frustrated their continuous attempts to get to my bird finger by hanging them out of their reach. 

Pests they are, but they still are cute to watch.   I am glad I have so many  visitors  to my backyard, keeping me company  through the cold and dark months of winter. It’s a good trade off, I provide them food and they provide me with entertainment. Here is a link to some more photographs on my blog website of the winter visitors to my backyard. Backyard critters  December to January 12 2022. 

“Like us, animals feel love, joy, fear and pain, but they cannot grasp the spoken word. It is our obligation to speak on their behalf ensuring their well-being and lives are respected and protected.”   -Sylvia Dolson.


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