Spring will be here tomorrow if the forecast can be trusted

These redpolls dropped by our garden today, on their way from the northern U.S.A. where they overwinter, to their breeding grounds in the arctic.  They love to eat catkins but today they were at our finch feeder, redpolls being a type of finch.

Redpolls
Redpolls

They are very gregarious birds and easily startled so the whole flock was constantly flying off into the bushes and then returning when the alarm was over.  It was just as well they were skittish as the hawk had been chasing chickadees around the bushes just a few hours before.

Here is one closer up, on the feeder:

Redpoll
Redpoll

Another hint was the first snowdrops, right under our corkscrew hazel.  All the sunflower husks are from the hazel which is a favourite perch for the birds who need a little time to crack the hulls.

Snowdrops
First Snowdrops of the year

There was still light snowfall and the temperature didn’t get over -2°C but tomorrow is supposed to be above zero at last, maybe even 10°.

 

 

White Christmas

We had our white Christmas again this year.  So it can go, now.  The days are getting longer but I expect we haven’t seen the last of it.  Last winter, we only had our driveway ploughed six times, but we’ve already had it done three times before the year really started.

Still, the redpolls are safer from the stray cat that’s been wandering around. It is black so very easy to spot against the snow.

Redpolls on Snow
Redpolls on Snow

We had a beautiful hoar frost a few days ago, with a fairly heavy mist.  It was too misty for the longer-range pictures but this closer look at pine needles worked OK.

Hoar frost on a red pine
Hoar frost on a red pine

Birds teach us a lesson

This redpoll and this goldfinch are not only different colours, but two different species, both in competition for the same food source. So if they can get along, why can’t humans?

Redpoll and Goldfinch

Of course, that was a trick question, because of course we can and do get along.  What is odd is that many humans can love one other and hate a second for what would seem like trivial differences to a third.

Goldfinch and Redpoll
Goldfinch and Redpoll

There are no prizes for guessing which is the redpoll and which the goldfinch, because I know my readers are all expert ornithologists.