Shakespeare, Hitchcock, and Me

How did Shakespeare describe it?

Spring’s ragged-edged advance

Well, maybe not, but he might have if he had lived in Canada. As Edmonton and Winnipeg enjoy late snowfalls and Ottawa looks forward to one next week, spring continues with two steps forward, one step back. This first full winter we’ve spent in Canada in many years and the first *ever* with a bird feeder has seen another first too: The first time I’ve had the opportunity to observe the seasonal changes in local bird populations.

Both winter and summer we hear the occasional cardinal and see the occasional downy woodpecker, but that’s not the real show. For most of the summer our backyard-mit-feeder is a scene from Finch Follies: house finches and American goldfinches predominate.

Two American goldfinches at ends of window feeder.

Was it something I said? Hon?

Through this past winter, however, there has been nary a finch. Redpolls have dominated the action: mostly commons but a hoary here and there by exception.

2-photo collage showing a hoary and a common redpoll

Hoary on the left; common on the right

A few weeks ago the redpolls started coming in great flocks — maybe 50 birds at a time? — stripping the feeder in less than a day.

And then, overnight, there they were: Gone. North, I presume, but they left no forwarding address. I guess I’ll hold their mail until next December.

For a few days it was all quiet on the backyard front. Then yesterday, a flash of yellow. And another. American goldfinches flitted from tree to bush to tree, reconnoitering the feeder and finding its squirrel-discouraging, cayenne-dipped sunflower chips to be . . . something not quite right. Dangerous? Suspicious? Unappetizing? Fake? Dunno. But clearly not quite right.

Within an hour or so, though, they decided to give it a go and it now looks as if all is right with the feeder if not necessarily with the world. And if/when they pause long enough in some sunshine to allow a good through-the-window photo, all will be right mit my world, too.

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11 Responses to Shakespeare, Hitchcock, and Me

  1. Pingback: Where Are They Now? | Traditional Iconoclast

  2. Jim Taylor says:

    Dangerous? No. Hungry? Maybe.

    Jim T

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – 🙂 Piggy? Probably. I guess they were packing on the grams up for the next stage.

  3. John Whitman says:

    Isabel – There is one spot in my walks in the Greenbelt where I see a couple of redpolls most times I walk by. Now it will be interesting to see if they are there through the summer, or if they too head north.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      John – Indeed. You can report at your convenience. And, of course, I’m assuming my redpolls headed north in a mixed flock, and didn’t just go a few blocks over.

  4. Great photos! Only way to deal with winter/spring in Canada. It is snowing here right now. Yesterday was +20. Yes, indeed, this is spring.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Judith – LOL. We have snow forecast for later in the week after a cool, rainy period, after a lovely warm one. Spring indeed.

  5. Great little video Isabel.

    Yes the gold finches, while they have been around all winter, certainly put in an appearance yesterday, they seemed intent on beating the robins to our front porch posts.

    Yes the redpolls have left for parts unknown but more cardinals seem to be around. Hope they haven’t taken covid with them.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Thanks, Jim R. That’s interesting that you have had goldfinches throughout. Unless the males just changed coloration for the making-whoopee season, we haven’t seen any here since late last fall.

  6. This week promises to be cruel to the early birds. I wonder if some of these travellers will find their way back to your eatery? We’ll be looking for an update next Sunday.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Laurna – Yes, I guess like baseball managers they play the odds. But that doesn’t always work out.

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