My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

A Second Blizzard - Ugh

Published March 12, 2014
Tags: My Feeders, Northern Cardinal, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadee, Tufted Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Red-breasted Nuthatch, European Starling, American Tree Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, Mourning Dove

I'm not sure what the stats are, but it's nearly unprecedented to get TWO blizzards in one year! This past week, though, as if this winter wasn't already hard enough, Mother Nature threw another blizzard at our poor birds.

Not only have the songbirds been challenged with an unusually harsh winter, but the waterfowl who over-winter in the Niagara River and Lake Erie (and the other Great Lakes), are having one of the worst winters on record. Thousands of ducks from Rochester to the Niagara River have either died or are dying of starvation. Red-breasted Mergansers have been hit especially hard. This species has a smaller gape (mouth), and feeds on small sized fish and minnows that are found in shallower water. With so much of the lakes and river frozen and iced over, the small fish aren't accessible and most of the birds can't easily get to what few open water areas that remain.  Many ducks are much better adapted for water travel and are ill-equipped for land travel. They can't get the running start they need to fly in order to seek open water. If they ARE able to make it to an open spot, they're met with intense competition.  I've seen with my own eyes the sad, sad sight of many dead and dying ducks at the Dunkirk Harbor and spots all along the Niagara River. If you're interested, there's more information in this article:  Duck Die Off.

The only bright spot in a snow storm is for me is that it brings many birds to the feeders. As a matter of fact, I saw my FOY Common Grackle. I've been keeping my eye out for one of these spring birds and sure enough, I got a quick view of the iridescent, longer-tailed, yellow-eyed blackbird right up on the porch deck. We locked eyes - and it flew off with a guilty look!

The European Starlings were a nuisance, dropping down on the feeders in hordes. I shooed them away as best I could but they still ate up a lot of the suet and peanut butter and I had to replenish the peanut butter several times. Fortunately, the songbirds returned quicker than the starlings - and I was able to grab a few photos of them here and there throughout the day, enjoying both their beauty and proximity...

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Purple Finch
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Northern Cardinal (male)
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Northern Cardinal (female)
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Tufted Titmouse
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Black-capped Chickadee
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Hairy Woodpecker (female)
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Downy Woodpecker (male)
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Red-bellied Woodpecker (female)
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American Goldfinch - and he's already molting into his spring colors!
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American Tree Sparrow
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White-throated Sparrow
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Red-breasted Nuthatch
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Red-breasted Nuthatch
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Purple Finch
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Purple Finch
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Darned Starling!