Winter Birds

It’s easy to think that there aren’t many birds left hanging around these cold northern woods by the end of December.


But they’re there, huddled up in their little down coats, making an occasional foray to find some fermented berries or little bugs that have burrowed into rotten tree trunks.    Their wiser cousins have headed south,  but these guys hang tough, hoping that the energy they’ve saved by not making that long flight will be enough to get them through the winter.

The Pine Grosbeaks manage to find trees full of berries that must be especially tasty after a good hard freeze:  they are so intent on eating that they let me get close enough to get a somewhat disconcerting look at their tongues.


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The Townsend’s Solitaire hangs around all winter as well, usually singing its long complicated song from the top of a tall spruce.    But sometimes all it can do is fluff itself up into a nice warm ball and wait out the cold.


Northern Flickers are generally busy all winter pecking holes in houses or rapping on chimneys.   Luckily for us, they like the spruce tree in our yard,


but are particularly fond of the heated water bath we provide.  This guy hung out all day, warming his toes in his own personal hot tub.


The Bohemian Waxwings fly in frantic flocks from tree to tree, looking for the same fermented berries that the Pine Grosbeaks like.    Once they’ve found a good tree, they eat their fill and then hang out in a contented group for the rest of the day.



Group hangouts seem to be popular, actually.  House finches are particularly fond of each other.


Magpies, too, have a predilection for holding loud squawking meetings.  They’re particularly happy if they can meet in a tree in a yard with a cat or dog that they can aggravate.


Mallards group up near whatever open water they can find.  If there’s a water slide available, so much the better!


And Bald Eagles and Northern Harriers manage to find plenty of voles and rabbits to keep them full and happy all winter long.


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Yep, it’s quiet is the winter woods, but that doesn’t mean nothing’s going on.


About westerner54

Hello. I'm Cindy, and I love to hike, bike and explore the outdoors - particularly the western U.S.
This entry was posted in Birding, Montana, Nature, Wildlife and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Winter Birds

  1. avian101 says:

    Terrific pictures Cindy! Have a Happy New Year! 🙂

  2. oursunnyday says:

    Very nice! Those grosbeak shots are great. We have all the birds I grew up knowing as “summer birds” down here where we spend our winters in Florida. It’s a little odd to hear yellow-rumped warblers, and to see white pelicans this time of year, but I love it!


  3. Wonderful! I love the series of birds in flocks. The House Finches look like pinecones and the magpies are so striking and elegant. (Isn’t it funny how such a mischievous bird looks so refined?)

  4. Jet Eliot says:

    Truly lovely photos, Cindy. The mallards on the water slide is a fun and rare capture, and I love the one filled with magpies.

  5. Lavinia Ross says:

    Beautiful winter photos! Looking forward to seeing more of your work in 2015!

  6. montucky says:

    These are wonderful winter bird shots!

  7. Zambian Lady says:

    Beautiful and clear photos especially the one with the magpies. They look like they are wearing tuxedos 🙂

  8. TedG says:

    Nice photos! Love the waxwings and magpies.

  9. Nancy says:

    The photos…one right after another… of the different flocks of birds just hanging out. Is remarkable! I loved every single photo. The Waxwings caught my eye I do have to say.
    Happy New Year to You!

  10. Janet says:

    WOW! Awesome photos. I have to tell you that yours is probably my favorite blog. Really well done.

  11. David Roux says:


    I am actually working on a local bird book (official county bird book) and we are looking for a photo of a group of magpies on a tree. Would you be willing to lend us this very nice photo for our book ?

    Thanks in advance

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