|Female Northern Cardinal 1-18-11 Andover, MA|
|Tufted Titmouse 2-27-11 Andover, MA|
Tufted Titmice are frequently seen at the feeder…
|White-breasted Nuthatch Andover, MA 1-21-11|
As well as white-breasted nuthatches who look perfectly well dressed for any Christmas party in their elegant gray, black and white formal wear. Nuthatches are also known as “Nut-hacks” or even “Nutcrackers” which I think ties in nicely with a certain Christmas Ballet known as the “Nutcracker Suite.” More than once this tiny bird has observed the “Dance of the Snowflakes” from its woodland home.
|Carolina Wren 2-27-11 Andover, MA|
Here in Massachusetts the Christmas weather will drive the Carolina Wrens to my suet. But I know that there are other Christmas birds besides these. When I lived in Arizona for 3 ½ years I saw many different birds at Christmastime.
|Pyrrhuloxia 2-4-2007 Corona de Tucson, AZ|
In my home at the base of the Santa Rita Mountains Christmas was the time of year I most often saw Pyrrhuloxias, or Mexican Cardinals. Similar to our Northern Cardinals, these red and gray birds always amazed me with their bright yellow parrot-like beaks.
|Phainopepla Tucson, AZ 3-6-2007|
While the Pyrrhuloxias were at my feeders, out in the desert the mistletoe would be fruiting and, feeding on the berries would be the pitch black Phainopepla. The Phainopepla is known as a silky flycatcher but it also eats mistletoe berries. After eating the berries the Phainopepla deposits the seeds in its droppings onto the branches of palo verde and mesquite trees. The sticky goo that is its excrement clings to the branches until the seeds sprout and the roots drive deep into the bark and beyond where the plant takes root and lives as a parasite off the sap of the tree. I suppose you could think of that as the fruit that keeps on giving!
|Gambel's Quail 7-13-2010 Corona de Tucson, AZ|
Now, for Christmas haberdashery, you cannot beat the male Gambel’s Quail. While the British may have been sporting some exotic hats this past year, I still like the topknot of the Gambel’s Quail the best! While we all know the song, “The Twelve Days of Christmas with its “partridge in a pear tree,” in Arizona we would have to change the words to a “partridge in a mesquite tree or a saguaro” instead.
|Male Costa's at feeder 1-15-2007|
|Hermit Thrush 10-14-2008 Madera Canyon|
Farther south in the Santa Rita Mountains lies a forest fold called Madera Canyon. This is a birder’s paradise and it is here in the winter that one can find the soft brown Hermit Thrush.
|Acorn Woodpeckers 1-19-2009 Madera Canyon, AZ|
While the Hermit Thrush is more often seen close to the ground, if you look up you will find the brightly colored Acorn Woodpeckers with their clown-colored faces clinging to the trees. These wise birds live in colonies and harvest acorns which they stuff into holes drilled into Alligator Cedars. These storage trees are known as “granaries” and the whole colony feeds off them in the winter. The comical Acorn Woodpeckers will provide you with some of the best winter entertainment around. Who needs a Broadway Show, when you’ve got these birds to observe!
|Sandhill Cranes 11-29-11 Rowley, MA|
Christmas is also the time when the Sandhill cranes return to the south. I saw a pair recently in Rowley, Massachusetts. I am sure they were just stopping by for a visit on their way south.
|Whitewater Draw 2-22-07|
Perhaps they will end up in Florida, but I remember seeing flocks numbering into the thousands at Whitewater Draw in Arizona. The sound of their wild “garoo-ing” is all the Christmas Caroling I need. But if you find yourself still longing for some snow to get you in the Christmas mood, well, I offer you a Different Kind of Snow…
|Snow Goose with Wigeon and Coot at Dave White Golf Course in Casa Grande, AZ 2-3-2007|
|Snowy Egret on Plum Island 10-1-11|
|Snowy Owl at Salisbury Beach Reservation 12-2-11 in Massachusetts|
But if you happen to live where you get the traditional kind of snow, just remember to feed...
|Blue Jay 1-18-11 Andover, MA|
The Birds of Christmas
Lo, the birds of Christmas
Are searching for some seeds
On winter’s frosty morning, so…
Remember nature’s needs
And toss a little fodder
To our feathered friends
In thankfulness for songs they sing
When this long winter ends.
~Kathie Adams Brown 12-9-2004
|Great Egret 1-21-11 Hammonassett Beach SP, CT|
Because I do not think it is a coincidence that angels have wings!
|Northern Cardinal 1-18-11 Andover, MA|
Merry Christmas from Kathie’s Birds to You!
May you have a year filled with Birding Bliss!