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Jan 14, 2009

Redpolls and Starlings show up

European Starling photo by R. Hays Cummings

It was -25C this morning, but not a breath of wind, mercifully. The bird feeders were almost empty. In addition to the usual hungry suspects, the newly-arrived Pine Siskins have swelled their number to 45! They're eating me out of house and home. Now the Redpolls have arrived. There were four of them this morning, jostling with the Goldfinches, Tree Sparrows, Juncos and Pine Siskens for the Black Niger seed.

I finally got around to putting out some suet balls this week. I was hoping for woodpeckers, of course, but the first arrivals were five Starlings...a bit of a surprise. While a year-around resident of Southern Ontario, in winter Starlings usually forage in large flocks, in the hundreds or thousands, where there is a good food supply. I'm hoping the five Starlings in my backyard, right now, keep the suet balls their very own secret.

Starlings, in the winter, look quite different. In winter, they are covered in hundreds of white spots and I think they are quite interesting to see. The internet photo above, taken by R. Hays Cummings, of Ohio, shows how striking the Starling's winter plumage is.

Below is an interesting internet photo of painted feathers, emailed to me by old friend, Peter Marsh. I don't know the identity of either the painter or photographer, but there is a lovely symbiotic message in the artist's presentation of image and materials.

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