The ground was covered with frost and the air was so crisp it made my nostril hair tingle, but the sun was shining and the activity at my feeders was substantial. A happy omen that it was to be a birdy morning.
Red-winged Blackbirds, still all males, were singing. Western Meadowlarks atop the bitterbrush across the highway were singing. House Finches were singing. American Robins, blessing Avimor with their presence for this first time this year, having been conspicuously absent all winter, were singing in all their glory. They all looked like males with their deep rich orange-breasts. A Ring-necked Pheasant called from up the way as American Goldfinches sang in flight over my head. A pair of Killdeer raced across our rocky vacant lots and screamed their annoyance at me. A Red-tailed Hawk broke the air with its piercing call, if you can call it singing. Even the Dark-eyed Juncos perched up high enough in the trees to bask in the morning sunlight and were actually singing away. I've only observed Juncos singing like this one other time. Quite pretty really. On top of that, the Ruby-crowned Kinglets were singing too! Not just their normal jidit-jidit calls. I was lovin' every minute of it!
All this morning music had me grinning from ear to ear, but more excitement was in store for me. I found that we have a mating pair of American Kestrels that have claimed the nest box we put up at Foothills Heritage Park last fall. They were vigorously defending the box from a handful of pesky European Starlings. I hope the Kestrels can maintain this abode for their young. I have seen Kestrels, Flickers, and Starlings fight over nesting holes before and I've seen Starlings all to often come away the victors.
Twenty species I saw this morning. That's a lot for a "winter" morning in these parts.