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January 14, 2012 / Leslie

Saturday Snapshot: Winter Birds

Snow finally arrived in the Chicago area on Thursday. I was hoping it would stay away all winter as I was enjoying the spring-like temperatures. Whenever we get snow in the Midwest the next few days are always extremely cold.

I feel bad for the creatures who have to stay outside during the cold spells. The birds will be ok as long as they get enough food and can find a sheltered area for the night. Their feathers keep them well insulated and they generate a lot of body heat, which is why they need extra food.

My favorite winter birds, the Dark-eyed Juncos, looked happy in the snow. They were hopping and kicking it around looking for seeds. These birds spend the summer in Alaska and Canada, then head down to the US for the winter. Yep, they think Chicago is a nice place to settle in for the winter.

I have a roost box mounted under the eaves on the garage. It’s similar to a nest box only larger and has six perches inside to accomodate multiple birds. During extreme cold some species will huddle together and share body heat.

The Starlings claimed the box yesterday. A few of them were sitting in the shrub next to it and hopping in and out of it all day. This one appears to be guarding the entrance making sure it was his home for the night, and it was a cold one at only 7 degrees F.


Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.


Leave a Comment
  1. Margaret @ BooksPlease / Jan 14 2012 5:27 am

    I especially like the starling photo – you captured that at just the right moment. It only just manages to squeeze itself into the opening.


  2. Louise / Jan 14 2012 5:56 am

    Good to see your weather has returned a bit more like normal. It’s still weird in Australia- it’s a very cold summer for us. Those little Juncos are lovely looking birds. Your starling has many more white spots than our local ones do. Interesting behaviour from them- hogging the warm spot.


    • Leslie / Jan 14 2012 11:29 am

      The white tips on the end of the Starlings feathers wear off during the winter. By summer they are mostly black and iridescent until they get their new feathers in autumn. They are smart and aggressive, and not a native species… probably why a lot of people dislike them.


  3. Paulita / Jan 14 2012 6:47 am

    Love your bird photos. We had our first snow here in Columbus too. They found a snowy owl dead the day after they featured it in the newspaper. They don’t usually come this far south but more have been spotted lately. THis one starved to death. Here’s Mine


    • Leslie / Jan 14 2012 11:32 am

      We have had Snowy Owls showing up on the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago too. Apparently these are young, first year birds, coming further south than usual searching for food. A few weeks ago one flew into an SUV and is now recovering from a broken wing at the wildlife rehab facility.


  4. Trish / Jan 14 2012 6:56 am

    The snow and cold came roaring into Toronto too. I always wondered where the Juncos went in the summer! They are such sweet little birds.


    • Leslie / Jan 14 2012 11:33 am

      They are so much fun to watch, always hopping and kicking in the snow.


  5. Lisa / Jan 14 2012 8:03 am

    What great pictures! I always worry about animals in the snow and have to remind myself that they are really built for it, all but the biggest extremes.


  6. Mary / Jan 14 2012 8:08 am

    I love your bird pics but today the starling is the star 🙂


  7. Kay / Jan 14 2012 8:14 am

    It’s interesting how their feathers seem to blend with the background and that starling…wow.


  8. laurelrainsnow / Jan 14 2012 9:08 am

    Great shots! I love the first one, with the snow and branches as a backdrop for the photo. Thanks for sharing….

    Here’s MY SATURDAY SNAPSHOT and here’s


  9. BermudaOnion / Jan 14 2012 11:07 am

    I guess that’s why down keeps us so warm. I love the photo of the Starling in the box!


  10. Alyce / Jan 14 2012 11:35 am

    We have Juncos here in the winter time too – Oregon Juncos. They are so cute! I love how frosty that bird’s beak looks. He must have been hunting food in the snow or something.


    • Leslie / Jan 14 2012 12:48 pm

      That’s exactly what he’s doing. I sprinkled some seed on the deck railing and then waited with my camera ready.


  11. Annie @ButteryBooks / Jan 14 2012 11:36 am

    7 degrees! Yikes! Love the pretty bird shots!


  12. storygal / Jan 14 2012 12:02 pm

    Excellent shots of the birds. Nice and close, so we can see the colour patterns.


  13. I love the one peeking out of his house! 🙂


  14. Amy / Jan 14 2012 3:57 pm

    The Dark eyed Juncos are beautiful, I love the soft brown color of their feathers. They look terrific against the white snow. I’m glad to see they look well fed, too. I love that you have a roost box for the birds and it looks as if they’re happy to use it!

    I worry about the birds in this cold weather and the stray and homeless cats and dogs. I wish I could help them all!


    • Leslie / Jan 14 2012 8:36 pm

      With their little white bellies they look like they were designed for blending in with the snow.

      I worry about the homeless pets too. They don’t know how to take care of themselves the way the wild animals do.


  15. Diane@BibliophileBytheSea / Jan 14 2012 7:50 pm

    I love these shots and that these lovely creatures find some shelter at your home.


  16. irene / Jan 14 2012 7:56 pm

    We got that cold/snow too. There were quite few little creatures huddled together in my cedars as well. I worry about them. I keep telling them to fly south to Chicago, but they don’t. Great pictures.


  17. Marie / Jan 14 2012 8:01 pm

    I love Juncos. When we see them it means a change in season; it’s either spring and summer is just around the corner (Yippee!) or it’s fall and winter isn’t far behind (Boo!). I don’t love Starlings, but I love that shot. He looks determined. Great job!


    • Leslie / Jan 14 2012 8:53 pm

      The Starlings can be annoying at times. They can devour a suet cake in one day. Only the Red-bellied or the Hairy Woodpecker will challenge them at the feeder.


  18. samstillreading / Jan 14 2012 8:56 pm

    So cute, love it when the birds are all fluffed up like that.


  19. Patti Smith / Jan 14 2012 10:24 pm

    Beautiful close up shots! They do indeed look comfortable in the snow…almost as if they have muffs and extra feathers for warmth 🙂


  20. Cipriano / Jan 14 2012 10:26 pm

    Such awesome photos.
    I FEEL the chill. How is it that birds can stay warm in this weather? No leggings? No pantaloons?
    Even though these are juncos, that first photo brought to mind Thomas Hardy’s poem, The Darkling Thrush, as the poor thing sang out on New Year’s Eve of 1899….
    The thirds stanza says:

    At once a voice arose among
    The bleak twigs overhead
    In a full-hearted evensong
    Of joy illimited;
    An aged thrush, frail, gaunt and small,
    In blast-beruffled plume,
    Had chosen thus to fling his soul
    Upon the growing gloom.


    • Leslie / Jan 15 2012 2:02 am

      Excellent choice of poems, so melancholy and wistful. Watching these little birds hop around cheerfully in the gloom of winter does provide hope of the coming spring.


  21. JLS Hall (joysweb) / Jan 15 2012 4:58 pm

    Lovely photos of the winter birds! I spent a winter in Chicago many years ago, and still remember walking down city sidewalks with six or seven feet of snow piled up on both sides. Hope your winter isn’t quite that intense this year.

    Thanks for visiting Joysweb, and have a wonderful week!


  22. Carol / Jan 16 2012 4:32 pm

    Gorgeous photos. Reminding me I need to put out more bird feed this evening.



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