Northern Pygmy Owl

We had heard the tooting of the Northern Pygmy Owl in the woods near us in previous winters but had little luck seeing one. This year our luck changed. These small owls are only about 6.5 inches long and perch many in conifer trees. Their main prey are small songbirds and unlike many owls hunt mainly in the day. We watched this bird for quite awhile before they slowly turned their head and gave us a look only an owl can give seemingly saying “hey move along I’m hunting here”.

Chickadee’s of the forest beware.


Thus far bird action around the neighborhood was relatively quiet and calm with with numerous chickadees and just a handful of other sprinkled in for variety. Well, last week that all changed as a large flock of Pine Siskin’s moved in. When the flock decides to visit the bird feeder it is quite a sight, a veritable frenzy of activity in some instances, and to say the feeder is mobbed might be an understatement.

Although they can also be calm and charming as was this fellow above.

This nomadic finch ranges widely and erratically across the continent each winter in response to seed crops. Better suited to clinging to branch tips than to hopping along the ground, these brown-streaked acrobats flash yellow wing markings as they flutter while feeding or as they explode into flight.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpolls frequent our area in the winter each year but seeing them seems a hit or miss proposition as they move around quite a bit. This winter we got lucky and had a few hanging around the neighborhood for a couple of days in a big mixed flock of finch species.

During winter, some Common Redpolls tunnel into the snow to stay warm during the night. Tunnels may be more than a foot long and 4 inches under the insulating snow.

Common Redpolls can survive temperatures of –65 degrees Fahrenheit. A study in Alaska found Redpolls put on about 31 percent more plumage by weight in November than they did in July.

On the bull kelp


A tiny Yellow Rumped Warbler found the bull kelp a perfect perch for hunting sand flies and other small insects on the beach. This girl would quickly dart down form the kelp to snag a small meal and quickly return to her perch. Seeing her sitting on the head of the bull kelp made us realize just how small she was. We watched a documentary about songbirds the other night called The Messenger. Here is a link to the website
It is a very timely reminder about what a world without song birds would be like.