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Winter visitors to the yard

Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 12, 06 at 17:47

The arbor feeder in our yard has been overwhelmed with Redpolls lately. The majority are Common, however there is the odd Hoary as well. After hitting the window today (and me plucking it out of the snowbank, certain it was dead), this Hoary became quite at home with sitting on my hand while recuperating. It flew off after about 5 minutes or so.

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Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Winter visitors to the yard

Isn't he cute!

Brenda


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Poor little guy looks like he has a headache!


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Great close up Pudge. They're so cute...I have yet to see any around here. Are they eating sunflower seeds? I read on the All About Birds site that they like the thistle seed and so I was going to try find some in town. I've never put it out before.

I'm glad your bird had a happy ending...sadly I lost a nuthatch to the window last week (the one and only one coming to the feeder :^(). I hung up some flashy tape because now that its on my mind I see alot of the birds fly back over the house to a grove of trees after they've been eating. Poor guy.

I've had my first Pine grosbeaks (about 9 of them) here since the -35 temps. I had been really hoping they would show up and was trying to think how I could attract them. I guess the weather did it! They're quite aggresive. There's a female that eats alone and hisses at the others to keep them back. Comical to watch. If Santa comes thorough with my request I'll try and get some pics!


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Wow...you are so lucky to have these! This one is sooo... cute!...not a very common bird and apparently hard to I.D. them.
Can you tell me please, when you see these 2 birds together in the feeder, is it still hard to I.D. them?
Have only seen the common one....here 2 pics, [first sighting] from last weekend.
Konrad

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RE: Winter visitors to the yard

  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 15, 06 at 8:33

Lately there's been an average of 40-50 Redpolls at the feeders. I'm feeding them a mix of black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower hearts and niger seed. These are set in the terra cotta dish trays that are suspended with several strands of string (I posted a pic a while back). Nice thing about these feeders is the House Sparrows stay away from them completely. The Redpolls are also eating Niger seed from a tube feeder.

Konrad, yes they're terribly hard to identify. There are so many variances within the Common Redpolls themselves, and then to throw in the Hoary Redpolls in the mix (and all their variances) makes it even more difficult. They don't stay put for very long either - constantly flitting about.

The Hoary's have less streaking on the crissum (that bottom area under the wings), a white patch above the tail, a smaller bill, and steeper forehead. Some list that the red patch is smaller. But when seeing a Hoary and a Common side-by-side, it's still difficult to immediately pick out the differences.

Now to add to the confusion, there are some in the birding world who believe there are Common/Hoary hybrids out there, too.


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Very nice pics Pudge & Konrad! Pudge, I too 'borrowed' your idea with a plant hanger and saucer - the birds are eating out of it and they weren't touching the feeder before. Same seed I poured in too. There are also woodpeckers on my suet nearly every day, which makes me happy because that's what I wanted to attract. :0) I try to get a picture but they like to come around at dusk and the light is bad.


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  • Posted by savona z2bBCCanada (My Page) on
    Sat, Dec 16, 06 at 17:39

Poor guy..Im glad the story had a good ending to it..lovely pictures Leo..This is the first winter that the pine grosbeaks have came nearly everyday to feed at the feeders..I find it amusing that they come and sit on the trees nearby talking up a storm and when they arrive at the feeders a steller jay and a woodpecker come in too..and then they all seem to leave together..savona


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Thank you Pudge & northspruce!

Here pictures from this weekend.... front, side, back of a bird I like to get an I.D. on it.
I'm sure Pudge knows this one!
Konrad
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>>Now to add to the confusion, there are some in the birding world who believe there are Common/Hoary hybrids out there, too

Pudge.....maybe I have caught one in the last pic LOL. I can't find any looking like this with yellow forehead on the net.
Konrad


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That is really cool Konrad, and such good shots for ID. I too searched the internet and found only this:

"For critical differences from Hoary Redpoll, see Herremans 1990, Lansdown et al. ... Forecrown shiny, bright red, occasionally gold or orange"

Which was the Google introduction to a page from the Cornell Lab of Ornothology... but when I tried to read the article it said I needed a $40 membership.

I will keep looking.


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  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Thu, Dec 21, 06 at 13:20

I would say that's a Hoary, Konrad. Streaking is minimal on the sides and pretty much absent on the breast. The yellowish colouring might be aided by the angle of the photo and light - in the top photo the crown looks more reddish.


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I lightened the photo (hope you don't mind Konrad) and it still looks pretty yellow to me... I didn't alter the colour balance.
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Maybe if you submit the pic to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology they will give you a membership ;0)


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I surly appreciate all your help!

When posting this at first, I wasn't even thinking about a Hoary Redpoll, but then looking back and comparing it to
yours pudge, I was pretty sure it was one but it puzzled me with that yellow forehead.

northspruce,
Your searching pretty well confirms that it is a Hoary, when is says...... Forecrown shiny, bright red, occasionally gold or orange"

Isn't it gold?....well, I can live with that!
I do know now, that I was fortunate to have a picture of a rare bird,.....thinking back, how I took this 3 only shots I had, and it was over in about 5 seconds.
Was taking downy and hairy woodpecker pics at the acreage, [you can see them at the birdwatching forum] when this one came from no where, set on that branch, turned around and flew to the ground in front of my bee hive, me thinking it picked up a dead honey bee in the snow and took off!

Have also posted this on the Bird Watching Forum and..
birding nut says...
I combed through a lot of images using google. See one link below. Most of them showing what are believed to be true Hoary Redpolls have back streaking that is much fainter almost frosy looking and with little to no streaking on the sides and white rump patch and undertail coverts. Your birds shows the limited breast and side streaking of a hoary and the white undertail coverts but the back shows fairly defined and dark streaking from what we can see in the photos. My best guess is that this could be a hybrid Hoary/Common Redpoll. My book states that they do hybridize where ranges overlap. As to a pure Hoary Redpoll, it is hard to say. Even Common Redpolls can have varying amounts of streaking, but usually not so little as in this bird here.
BN


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Well...Santa is a dear ol' fellow isn't he! He and DH really outdid themselves and gave me an Olympus digital camera (incessant hinting had something to do with it I think :^)). I am having so much fun with it already and am glad I can now share photos with you all.

Here's one I took Christmas day of one of the Pine Grosbeaks visiting the feeder.

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Happy Holidays to you all!


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This is really wonderful Toots!
Have never seen a Pine Grosbeaks,
they don't seem to be around here.
I'm glad Santa was good to you!
Now you have even more fun!
Thanks for sharing!

Here, I believe a female Common Redpoll
I can see now how close they look between the two of them!
Also, wishing all of you a happy new year!
Konrad

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Thanks Konrad and you're welcome :^) I have been thoroughly enjoying your photos. They turn out so clear.

Here's a pic of some female Pine Grosbeaks. They don't seem to be as shy as the males are.

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I'm still waiting patiently for some redpolls to show up here, I haven't seen any yet.

Has anyone ever had snow buntings come to a hanging feeder? We have some huge flocks around here, but they never come near the yard. They are always around the cows scratching through the hay on the ground. Maybe they just prefer that?


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Just lovely!... I like these swinging bird feeder!
Went for a nature walk at Whitemud Creek Ravine today....guess what I have found,....
Pine Grosbeaks I think... is it?...They where soo...far away on top of spruce tree. At some places you walk under thick forest, it feels like you are in Jasper. Lovely!
Allot of people walk there dogs on these trails, with and without leach, don't think there is a post, garbage pail or tree not peed on by them. LOL

>snow buntings
This is a new species for me, never heard about it, looks like a nice looking bird!... A very northern bird!
Thanks for posting!

This from Whitemud Creek....
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Kids are feeding chickadees along the trail.
I used flash light, this one got startled when taking picture.
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Oh that's just too funny, Konrad! Guess what turned up at the feeder this evening? Redpolls!!! I think this is definately a good omen for the new year! Glad you saw some grosbeaks. I didn't remeber how small the redpolls were...they make the chickadees look like thugs at the feeder :^)


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Wonderful!!!

I see some of these guys in my property every year and never know exactly what they are,.... have googled a little and what they resemble most, is the sharp-tailed Grouse
What do you say?
Konrad

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  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 7, 07 at 16:23

How lucky you are, Konrad, to have these birds on your property. It could also be a Ruffed Grouse - but aside from the obvious, I'd have a hard time distinguishing the female sharp tailed from the ruffed. If it is the sharp tailed it would be interesting if they have one of their leks nearby that you could watch the courtship ritual. I'd love to see that.

We have a lot more activity this winter than last. The Redpoll count was up around 100 - it seems to have decreased some in the last few days but still at least 50 (8 cups of food every 2-3 days worth, anyway). Daily visits by the several hairy & downy woodpeckers, pine grosbeaks and bluejays always make it interesting.

The past few days the red squirrel has reappeared. Since we have so few squirrels around here I'm encouraging it to stick around by putting out a nut mixture at the base of the tree it seems to hang around in.

DH & I went out for a drive today - such a beautiful sunny day, we were hoping to spot owls, hawks, or anything of interest, really. 50 Ravens at the dump was about all we saw, though - not a bird to be had anywhere (except right outside my window at home at the feeders).


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Well, what do ya know...here's your owl Pudge. He's a Northern Hawk owl and he would very much like to eat all the nice little birdies at my feeder! I see him daily, mostly surveying the yard, but I have caught him doing a feeder flyby once! He likely does it more than I see. A pair raised a family this summer right close to the yard, but not sure if this is a parent or a kid.
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Konrad, It looks more like a Ruffed to me, but really check out the tail details if you get a chance...Ruffs have the band along the bottom and the sharps' tails are very pointed and show alot of white when they are fanned. I can't really tell from the pic. I know the sharps have quite a bit more white all around. We see them in the hayfields around here, but have never had the privilage of witnessing a courtship.
We have seen and heard a 'chicken'(not sure if it was a ruffed or a spruce grouse ) doing his throat thing. That was funny! We were hiking and were kinda wary of bears in the area and then we heard this noise and thought it must have been a bear woofing, but then right beside us was this chicken. Proud as can be, standing on a log all puffed up. The funny (well not so funny I guess!) part is, as we were walking away we actually did see a sow with two cubs head into the trees above us! Phew!

Here's shot of a chickadee trying to feed in the wind. I thought he looked comical.

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The little guys are hard to catch sitting still!


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Thank you all!
Hopefully I get a better picture next time!....but I'm not expecting it soon because they are very shy, as soon as they see that you're looking at them, they take off!

Pudge...We also go out ones in a while for a drive and see what we can spot, a flock of Bohemian Waxing got our attention last weekend, they where feeding on something on the ground. I should have checked it out closer to see what plant it was? Perhaps I will go there again and see.

Toots,...I'm yellows of your Northern Hawk Owl!....This is just wonderful! Give him the House Sparrows first! LOL.

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Fat, really gets the downy and hairy wood pecker coming, also chickadees.

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Konrad


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Awsome photos, Konrad! I have never seen a flock of waxwings before. Lucky if I get a glimspe of one a year! They're georgous! Their colorationg really shows up. I especially like the one of them sitting on the fence post. It looks like a Christmas card.


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  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 13, 07 at 9:54

Thanks for the owl, Toots. Since I've started paying attention to birds and taking note of what they are, I've only seen one which I believe was a great grey owl. He was hard to miss flying straight toward us while we were driving down an old country road last summer - huge bird that I thought was going to fly right into the windshield. I've heard plenty of owls at night while camping (especially up north), but just never seem to spot them.

Excellent photos, Konrad - that third one is absolutely stunning! We normally have a town flock of bohemian waxwings and did have some in late fall for a while, but they are now absent. They are certainly beautiful birds.

Well, all I've got is a shot of the feeder. Not the greatest photo - taken from the window against the light. These are all redpolls, and it was about -35 the day after the storm. Poor little things - I can't imagine what it takes for them to stay warm enough to survive.

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  • Posted by savona z2bBCCanada (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 13, 07 at 10:20

I am enjoying this thread..some super great pictures in it.My hairy woodpecker numbers are up too 4 now and with the colder weather there is a lot of activity at the feeders..I love the picture of the bohemian waxwings on the fence post Konrad..lucky you Toots for getting the picture of the northern hawk owl..savona


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Thank you all for the nice comment!

Pudge
Your feeder station sure looks amazing with all those birds!
I can just imagine, sitting on the window and watch, ... never get bored.
All of you are doing a fabulous job, feeding those lovely critters.

Konrad


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Finally got some pics of the Snow Buntings. Couldn't get very close as they are so flighty! So the close up is cropped. ( gotta get a telephoto lens!) Please excuse the cow paddies...but isn't it funny how they're so perfectly camoflauged (?) for it?! LOL. No wonder they don't bother coming to the feeder. When we're driving at night aroung here you see them in the headlights flush up out of the snow like tarmagin...true blue tundra birds I suppose.

Do you see them? Hee hee...

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Oh there they are...

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And off they go!

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I love how white thier under parts are...like doves!...but smaller.

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These are two of the four redpolls coming to the feeder...would this be a female and a male? One just has brown streaks on the side and the other has a very rosy breast with a bit of streaking.

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  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Sat, Feb 17, 07 at 20:11

Excellent shots, Toots. I was having a hard time seeing them in the first photo - good thing you posted the second cropped shot.

I took a drive today out in the country but, aside from the Magpies and Ravens, I saw more deer than birds. I did come across a group of sharp tailed grouse, though. I stopped near a feedlot, empty of cattle, but there were about 30 white tailed deer feeding, and about that many magpies flew up as I stopped. A little ways down the road another 3 deer and then another 5 - lots of deer around. Saw a few coyotes, too. I guess I have to go to the area where there's plenty of cow paddies to find the snow buntings, though. Either that, or take a pre-dawn drive so they can fly up off of the road and scare the pants off me.

I would that your Redpolls are probably male and female. They sure are sweet little things, aren't they?

I still have a lot of feeder activity - we're on our 2nd 40 lb. bag of Niger and 3rd (or 4th?) 50 lb bag of black oil sunflower. You know you're in trouble when you start watching the sales - not for groceries but for bird seed. And yes, Konrad, I do just sit and watch a lot. It's interesting to see how the different birds interract. I find it amusing that the Hairy Woodpecker doesn't worry a bit about a Redpoll or a Downy landing on the suet cage while he's feeding, but if a House Sparrow decides to land, Hairy jabs the sparrow with his beak. The Redpolls don't care about a Pine Grosbeak landing or flying near them, but all scatter far and wide when a Blue Jay comes around.

Does anyone feed canary seed in their feeders? Some farmers around here grow it as a crop, and a farmer friend of mine wants to give me a couple of 5 gal. pails full. I know the Redpolls will eat Canola seed, but I don't know about the canary seed.


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Thanks Pudge. I don't know about canary seed...is that like canary reed grass seed?

I saw your post about the bird count, but just had too many things on the go this weekend. I guess there is always next year. Did you count yours?

Neat how you've noticed who feeds with who. One thing I've noticed is that nobody seems to mess with the nuthatch...whether he waits til its all clear or everyone else leaves I'm not sure. I haven't been able to catch him on camera yet.


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  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Mon, Feb 19, 07 at 16:47

No, Toots, the canary seed is Phalaris canatiensis, like what the budgies eat. I googled my question and see that the sparrow family likes it, so I'll start feeding it once they start to arrive - the Dark Eyed Juncos should be the first of that family, I think.

I did the bird count - 3 days worth. On yesterday's drive out of town I did manage to scare up a flock of snow buntings.


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Lovely shots Toots!

>>Please excuse the cow paddies...but isn't it funny how they're so perfectly camoflauged <<

It doesn't bother me,....grown up on the farm.
This is interesting!....I like how they blend in!
Yes, your redpoll on the left is a female, the rosy breast is the male.
Thanks for sharing!

Pudge....you sure seen allot of stuff!
>> still have a lot of feeder activity - we're on our 2nd 40 lb. bag of Niger and 3rd (or 4th?<<

I also feed Niger or Nyier seed since last year, it's expensive seed but I do like that many birds like it!
Does this seed help to keep House Sparrows away?
I only feed this seed and black sunflower, out on the acreage as a open source in a tray or on the ground and have never attracted H.sparrows as of yet.
I know, some of the cheap mixed seed will attract them....so for now I just feed this with black sunflower
seed.

>>gotta get a telephoto lens!<<

It is nice to have!....
I drive a 1986 Volkswagen with 538000km, [my first new car] and still klicking, I figured have earned myself a telphoto
lens by now.

Female redpoll
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Male
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Snowy Owl, just outside of Beaumont
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Oh, Conrad - you are a bird photographer extradordinaire!!!

Carol


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Great shots, Konrad!
Doesn't a blue winter sky make a spectacular backdrop for photos! It seems to make the coloration on the birds so much clearer and just jump out at you.


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Wow, Konrad. That owl is just staring you down, isn't he. Aren't you glad that you're just a bit bigger than him? lol

I can't express to all of you how much I am enjoying this thread. Please keep the shots coming. Also, Konrad, I am so thrilled to see all of these birds just a few miles away from me. Unfortunately, because of living in a new development, we don't get too many birds yet. They are starting to come, though. I actually had my very first ever hummingbird last summer. And, we get chickadees, robins and sparrows. I know the others will come in the next few years though, as the trees mature.

Shauna


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We're finally getting some pine grosbeaks this year. Here are a couple from today:
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Nice, Marcia! They are so pretty, aren't they.


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Just opened my back door and spotted a couple of sharptail grouse just a few feet away. This one appears to be eating something off the mountain ash branches. Too bad I don't have the right camera for taking bird pics, but I'm sure enjoying the ones posted here!
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There were some snow buntings in the yard at noon yesterday, a pretty big flock. They flew off as we drove in, and that was the last we saw of them.


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Thank you all!

Lovely shots of those males Marcia!...I have yet to see them in my yard!

north 53
You captured this guy beautiful!...It sure looks allot like the one I posted before.
Some years ago, I have seen about 3 or 4, not sure if they where Sharptail or Ruffed, late fall up on a
Chokecherry tree eating cherries, I was amazed, how they could walk on such slender branches!
Are both species eating berries like this?

Here, a white breasted [male] nuthatch in my yard from last weekend looking for food.
Konrad
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I'm loving all these bird pics! Especially the nuthatch with his eyes closed digging in the bark... how cute! Keep em coming everyone. I'll just stick to flower photography... they stay put longer (unless it's windy LOL)

Does anyone know if (popped) popcorn is good to feed to birds?


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  • Posted by pudge 2/3 Sask (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 1, 07 at 10:05

The male pine grosbeaks are such beauties, aren't they? Lately I've noticed that the 4 males visiting my yard seem brighter, or redder. They must be getting geared up for a date and a bit of nookie!

I had no idea that grouse went up into the trees. But I guess it makes sense - when everything on the ground is so snow covered, what else would they eat.

We had nuthatches early in the winter - white breasted here at home and red breasted at work - but I haven't seen them since.

DH saw an owl just outside of town a yesterday and from his description it sounds like a Great Grey. I want to go hunt him down, but it's been snowing pretty good since I got off work yesterday.

Great photos, everyone.


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hi there;

Though not usual for our area (zone 5 through7 in micro), as far as I know, we having a large number of repolls this year at our window feeder. Perhaps global warming?

JMW


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