Monday, January 16, 2012

Feathered Winter Vistors, Pine Grosbeaks

This winter has been pretty good, temperatures were actually well above normal, there was not much snow (I know, I know, bad for crops), but that all changed two days ago. A cruel cold wind blew in snow and drastically cold temperatures. We went from +5C to -20C in a matter of less than a day.

The wind also seemed to blow in some new guests, birds that we have not really seen here in the past, although they are not uncommon in the area.

We normally have black capped chickadees, waxwings, nuthatches, and blue jays, but over night we had a group of two new arrivals, redpolls (small birds), and some very attractive, robin sized birds.

At first we had only the female birds. I had a hard time identifying them because the bird book I have only pictures a male, and the females had what I would call an orange head, and the bird book said the females have an olive head (to me olive is greenish). So I thought I had a mystery bird at the feeder, eating sunflower seeds so fast I had to fill up the dish several times throughout the day.

It was not until the afternoon that male arrived (no surprise) and I was able to make an accurate identification; Pine Gosbeak, perhaps Alberta's equivalent for winter beauty to the cardinal, a bird that is rare to see here.

From what I read, Pine Grosbeaks are a forest dwelling bird most of the time but enjoy mountain ash trees (which I have always wanted but still have not gotten around to buying). They are slightly larger than finches and the defining feature is the white bars on their wings, which the females do have also.

The location, for anyone who is interested, is central Alberta, about 1 hour SW of Edmonton.

Other than the new birds, there is not much happening, the weather is frightfully cold so everyone is trying to stay warm.  I gave a whole bunch of chopped up apples to the sheep this afternoon, they liked that.  I suspect the birds might like some too, I shall put some out tomorrow.

Pictures are copyright © owned by me.



  1. They are beautiful birds--what a lucky visit!

  2. I really enjoyed your article because I get visits from a gorgeous array of birds where I live as well.

    I just bought a set of binoculars on and can't wait for them to arrive so I can start seeing them right up close. :o)


  3. Cool blog post!

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  5. Nice article, i enjoy catching a trip or two a year bluegill fishing but Tend to not look at birds so much.