Date: 2/22/21 8:08 pm
From: Robert Evans <benbovas...>
Subject: [Ohio-birds] Arriving red-winged blackbirds, fox sparrow, etc., at feeders, Muskingum Co.
Red-winged blackbirds, fox sparrow, redpoll, red-headed woodpecker, towhee,

Today here on Flint Ridge in western Muskingum County, three red-winged
blackbirds (male) milled around the feeders. The heavy snow accumulation
from 5 unmelted snowfalls is at last thawing, it is Feb. 23rd, and RWBB's
are arriving about on schedule for this latitude and geography. We had one
under a feeder on Feb. 10, but I think that was a bit of an outlier. These
guys looked more like arriving migrants.

The heavy snow cover and icy glaze has driven a few interesting birds to
our feeders (black oil sunflower and suet) during this February bout of
deep winter. Single individuals of a few interesting species have been
around the last couple weeks.

A single fox sparrow has been visiting the ground under the southside
feeders by the well pit. It seems to show up mostly in the morning, but I
haven't seen it every morning. I first saw it last week on Wednesday (2/17.)

Redpolls have been present but elusive. I definitely have had two (probably
only two) in the last month, first spotted January 25. Usually it is just a
single redpoll among the dozens of goldfinches and scads of house finches.
And usually only in the mixed flock, not by itself. This individual has a
very dark red poll, almost black. There is another with a lighter red
forehead, and once I saw them both under the northside feeders at one time,
so I know there have been two. They are completely unreliable as far as
whether or not I see them on any given day, although I don't have the time
to spend hours monitoring. The darker one is the more frequent, but still I
have seen it only 6 or 7 times in four weeks, a lighter one only twice,
mornings or late afternoon. I have seen redpolls here only two other
winters since we moved here in 2000. Always nice, but definitely elusive.

A single red-headed woodpecker has been visiting the suet. Red-headed
woodpeckers have been more common here since the derecho windstorm of June
2012, which downed or topped a lot of trees, produced a lot of snags, and
so forth. But this is the first time I have had one here in "real" winter.
We had one on Christmas Day, and then last week we started having one (the
same one?) that visits the suet daily, multiple times it seems. Always a
striking and entertaining bird.

BTW, our farm is great for woodpeckers. I feel very fortunate to have all
the "regular" species: downy, hairy and red-bellied in abundance, pileated
regularly calling from the forest (seen often enough,) flickers
occasionally, and sapsuckers in season. Hairy woodpeckers appear to be
doing very well here. Last summer we had three nesting pairs nearby. (You
could tell by the directions they launched towards when leaving with mouths
stuffed full of suet.)

Towhees are common here, but not usually in winter. This year we have an
individual male with some left wing issue (a couple primaries at weird
angles.) He has latched onto the northside feeders by the forest edge as a
way to make a living until the forest floor appears again. I haven't seen
any others.

Our feeders harbor most of the expected winter birds as well:
Song and tree sparrows, plenty of juncos, abundant cardinals, mourning
doves, starlings (of course), but, interestingly (I think) no house
sparrows. I believe our farm cats have driven house sparrows from nesting
in the rafters of our barns, effectively extirpating them here. And so they
occupy neighboring farms, but not here, and not at our feeders. House
finches have filled the void, and we have essentially uncountable numbers
(over a hundred?) Plenty of goldfinches. The usual parid complex for this
latitude (40N) - Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice, along with
white-breasted nuthatches.

Anyway, interesting feeders. I have measured the sunflower seed
consumption, but haven't done the algebra yet. Maybe I don't want to know.

Bob Evans
Geologist, etc.
Valhalla Acres Fiber Farm
Hopewell Township, Muskingum County

Submitted in the honor and memory of Bill Whan. Re-joining the conversation.


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