What’s Your “Winter Bird”?

Jill Staake

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!

  1. Rebecca says

    I’m new to birding so for right now, blue birds are a big deal for me. For two years now blue birds have raised a family in the bird house in my yard. Maybe they are here year ’round, but I seem to notice them a lot now and in the spring.

  2. Ada Graham says

    I have been trying all winter to get a pix of this strange bird that is a visitor to my many feeder this winter. This AM I was on my deck sipping coffee, with my camera in my pocket, and there it was! Low and behold it turns I was so shakey it didn’t show up! I live in NW cornner of Montana, Libby.
    I am thinking it is a Junko Highbread! The body is burnt red. junco head. only thing is it has a stripes on its breast like a pine siskin. Anyone have an idea!

  3. says

    I have just the last winter been seeing the yellow rumped warblers in my yard.First one I seen was dead in my yard. I was heart broke…..But they are here now. 20 mls south west of Mobile Al. St Elmo Al…. I love bird watching. My husband and I watch every day with coffee in hand. Our time together when he comes in from work.LOVE IT!!!!! And him….

  4. Dee Robbins says

    Our “winter bird” is the Pacific Golden Plover, or Kolea as known here in Hawaii. We love these birds. Each winter they stake out their territory in a parking lot or patch of grass. Each April, the 24th or so, they fly north. They return to their same territorial spot here each year, seemingly on guard duty patrolling their winter home for intruders.

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