We've had a few winter residents in our yards for several weeks - Rufous Hummingbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, Red-breasted Nuthatches (below), 2-3 American Goldfinches and a solitary Chipping Sparrow (below). However, the range and number of winter birds has been rather disappointing. Until yesterday, that is.
I looked out of our living-room window at 9:30 yesterday morning to find a score of American Goldfinches on our various feeders, and more waiting in line.
It wasn't long before I spotted what I had been hoping for since our return from the UK - a Pine Siskin. At least three were mixed in with the Goldfinches on our platform feeder.
A few minutes later I saw that several Pine Warblers had joined the Goldfinches at our front yard feeders.
I was equally pleased to see the return of a pair of Northern Cardinals, birds we have hardly seen in our yards since the summer.
I was less pleased to see that the activity at our feeders attracted the attention of some White-winged Doves and, inevitably, a bunch of House Sparrows.
Whenever there was a lull in the activity, our Ruby-crowned Kinglet would sneak in and grab some suet.
While I was taking photos of the Kinglet, I kept catching glimpses out of the corner of my eye of another small bird that was making quick visits to a nearby seed feeder. A Carolina Chickadee, I assumed. But then the bird stayed long enough at the feeder for me to focus on it. A Brown-headed Nuthatch!
Brown-headed Nuthatches are fairly common just north of our area, in Kleb Woods and in Tomball's Spring Creek Park but this is the first one that we've ever seen in our yards. Now if a White-breasted Nuthatch would visit our feeders ...