New/unusual yard observations during this weather?

For those of us getting hammered with the polar vortex: what changes in your area’s flora/fauna have you noticed?

I’m getting weird yard bird activity; huge flocks of goldfinches (usually a rare visitor), lots of white throated sparrows, a huge flock of robins, even a brown creeper on the suet (no photo of that one but I was amazed). Fox sparrows which were new for me entirely, etc. My chicadees OTOH are vanished and I haven’t seen my downy’s since it got bad.

Was wondering what changes others have observed?


I live in northern IL US. I had someone I know invite me to their house to see a Spotted Towhee that was coming to their feeders, I got to see that and also saw White-crowned Sparrows.

At my feeders, I’ve been getting large amounts of chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches, and at one of my feeding stations I counted 48 American Goldfinches all at the same time.


Huge flocks of goldfinches? Are you positive they’re not pine siskins? A flock of about thirty ravages our birdfeeder almost every day and I thought they were goldfinches at first until I saw the more striated patterning on their backs


Very sure. We have seen some pine siskens too


I have three sets of feeders that I watch that have finch feeders. Two of them get lots of goldfinches and only a couple siskins. The third gets high numbers of both.


At my bird feeders in northeastern Oregon, got an American Tree Sparrow which is a completely new bird for the yard. Also have an Oregon x Pink-sided Junco intergrade and over 250 Red-winged Blackbirds. To top it off, an immature Northern Harrier has called our heavy foliaged yard its hunting grounds and it’s still confusing the heck out of me.


On the other side of the Rockies, we’re having a rather mild February and the red-winged blackbirds have come back to our wetland early. One was singing in my backyard two days ago and they usually show up in March.

Sadly, our goldfinches and pine siskins are experiencing a salmonella outbreak my friend has seen several dead ones in her neighborhood. :slightly_frowning_face:


I’m seeing almost the same thing! First Fox Sparrow in my yard ever as well as the first Eastern Towhee. First day of snow my feeder was covered up with Gold Finches and moderate flocks of female Red-winged Blackbirds. Today I saw very few female Red-winged blackbirds but huge flocks of males. My Chickadees were edging their way to the feeder trough then darting off to eat their single sun flower seed in peace. My Eastern Bluebirds emptied my sectioned-off area of freeze dried meal worms with an occasional Robin grabbing some. The Robins have never been on my feeder.


The most out-of-the-ordinary thing here (wooded, hilly suburbs of Tulsa, OK) has been a flyover group of snow geese.

Aside from that, larger-than-usual numbers of sapsuckers, mockingbirds, robins, yellow-rumped warblers, and thrashers at feeders. Surprisingly, no winter irruptives (pine siskins, red-breasted nuthatches) lately, and the winter birds that have been showing up at feeders around the state and country (fox sparrows, purple finches) have yet to show up this winter.

As for other fauna, I’m waiting with bated breath for the snowmelt to see if our resident Elliot’s short-tailed shrews make it through the storm. Haven’t seen evidence of them for a while now…


I live in Columbia, MD and one unusual bird I have been seeing is Fox Sparrows. I last saw one during the snow in December, and this storm seems to have brought them back. I got a high count of 4 at once!


If I had a Northern Harrier making regular hunting visits to my yard, I could die a happy man.


At least in my area, and perhaps is this because I am looking outside more often due to the snow, but I have noticed some Red-Bellied Woodpeckers making cacophony on the trees.


Most common birds in my area has changed from cardinals and blue jays to hundreds of robins and killdeer. Never seen a killdeer before now, and even robins were rare. Also have seen huge flocks of grackles and a few random Indigo Buntings, which, I usually only see during late spring. I have seen no species other than birds and stray cats. All the plants have been frozen in ice, some including honeybees and other small insect pollinators.


We had 5 inches of snow in the Knoxville, TN, area at Christmas. Watching birds from the kitchen window, we saw interesting behavior. The snow had piled up on some dried weed stalks and bushes to make a sort of igloo, and Towhees and other birds apparently were using it as a roosting place. We would see them scoot out to eat food off the ground, then scoot back in. We have a lot of mud dauber wasp tunnels on the back wall of the garage, and one day, we watched a Downy Woodpecker drilling into them.
Since February 13, our two tom Wild Turkeys have returned almost every day for lunch on the cracked corn I put out. They stay for ten or fifteen minutes, long enough for the smaller birds to get impatient and start fluttering around them to shoo them off. One tom has a large beard, almost 3 inches wide, but he is dominated by the skinny-bearded one.Both of them are showing their red neck colors right now.

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Hey, okbirdman. I’m near the Port of Catoosa and am getting large numbers of Fox and White-throated Sparrows, Pine Siskins and Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Brown Thrashers, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Harris’ Sparrows, and all the usual suspects like Cardinals and Bluejays. I’ve never had Fox Sparrows before, and it’s been years since I’ve seen Purple Finches and Harris’ Sparrows.


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