Winter is a wonderful time for birders. Deciduous trees lose their leaves, making birds easier to spot. Food becomes scarcer, sending more varied birds to feeders. And migrating birds bring newcomers and even unusual sightings to your area (check out this article from Audubon about this year’s influx of irruptive migrants). And for any birder, whether one who watches the backyard feeders from an armchair with a cup of coffee, or one who heads out into the woods with binoculars and earmuffs, there’s usually one bird that simply says “Winter”.
When I lived up north, that bird was the Northern Cardinal. Although they were certainly present year-round, their brilliant red plumage against snow and evergreens was so very “winter” to my mind. We lived in an apartment and had a feeder on the balcony, and delighted in watching cardinals gobble up sunflower seed as fast as we put it out. Here in Florida, my winter bird is different, since it’s a migrant. Yellow-Rumped Warblers make their way south to Florida for the winter, and I see them from November to March, both at my feeders taking seeds and on the lawn grabbing insects. They have a widely-varied diet, allowing them to winter over much of the country. This time of year, their coloration is muted, but by the time they leave in spring, their plumage is striking indeed – the contrasting black and white accented with brilliant yellow.
What about you? What bird says “Winter” to you? Tell us about in the comments below!