Snow Birds and Snowbirds.

It does not snow much here in Portland so when it does both the humans and the birds go absolutely bananas.  Our recent storm was scheduled to arrive mid-day Thursday, which was perfect since it was on my weekend.  The east winds were howling all Wednesday night and Thursday, freezing up the bird baths quickly.  The mutts helped me keep them under control.

We will eat bird bath ice for you.

The birds appreciated our efforts, especially once the snow arrived.

 Happy goldfinches

 Happy White-crowned Sparrow

Happy Lesser and American Goldfinches and junco

The birds were blowing through seed, though the seed was also blowing through.  That wind!   I did my best to keep everything stocked for them.

House Finch

I was hoping for some interesting birds to show up out of desperation, but nothing too crazy made an appearance.  A Spotted Towhee was a decent uncommon bird for the yard.


 In weather like this much work goes into keeping hummingbirds happy.  Unlike most places in the country that have freezing weather in the winter, Portland has year-round hummingbirds.  This means they rely heavily on us when the temperature drops.  I do my best to keep their nectar unfrozen and accessible.

This is my driveway Anna's Hummingbird who guards my driveway feeder, along with my neighbor's new little feeder about ten feet away.

He is handsome.  I have a second male that guards the backyard feeder who is also handsome.


I might have to break down and get a third feeder because these two dudes won't let any females near the nectar.  

When the weather is rough like this I allow something that I do not usually allow:

Ugh.  This one is particularly cute.

On Thursday evening the snow changed over to freezing rain.  This meant that Friday morning the whole city was coated in ice, which was pretty to look at but terrible for most other uses.  Jake in particular had a rough time walking outside and kept falling down.  I tried breaking up some paths for him to walk but I think the sharp edges of the broken ice made him even more miserable. 

Sure was pretty though!  I was crunching around the front yard taking macros when a woman waiting at the bus stop one house down walked over.  She asked if I was a photographer for a career and I said no.  She said, "you're out in this for fun???"

A few birds on ice from yesterday:

Golden-crowned Sparrow

 Sparrows on ice

 Lesser Goldfinch

 Red-winged Blackbird

 My favorite bird sighting from my weekend had to be one that I did not photograph.  I was sitting on my couch and heard a chip note I recognized but could not place.  When I looked over at the window a little grey head was peering back at me, with a yellow crown and a yellow throat.  And then it was gone.  A Yellow-rumped Warbler!   This is not a rare bird here but I've only had one a few times in the yard and certainly never perched on my windowsill looking at me.

Okay, now that we have all the snow birds and ice birds out of the way I want to talk about Snowbirds.  When I was growing up my mom referred to Dark-eyed Juncos as Snowbirds and I didn't know till I started birding that they were the same thing.  Back in our CT yard as soon as snow arrived so did the slate-colored juncos.  Here in my Portland yard my junco population tripled at the very least with the arrival of snow.

Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon)

Most of the juncos we see in Portland are of the Oregon race.  How fitting.  But sometimes we get other, more interesting birds to ponder.  A few days ago I visited by a bird with a unique white patch on its cheek that was clearly not an Oregon junco.

There is no pink anywhere on this bird, though it seems to have enough of a contrasting hood that I'm not sure it can be considered slate-colored.  Could this be a Cassiar junco?  Maybe so.  I had assumed this bird would show up with the rest of the juncos during the storm but I never saw it again. (*Cassiar junco is generally considered to be a mix of the Oregon and slate-colored races).

The above bird has a less obvious hood.  

Same bird, definitely looks slate-colored to me

Another bird that showed up in the ice:

Now this bird seemed to be as slate-colored as it gets.  Yay.  If you want to read more about the various races of junco in the northwest, check out this article on eBird.

Anyway, this weather has been fun and all...

...but I'm ready for it to melt, please.  Good times!


  1. You had a heck of a mid week storm! Hope its is all gone Ice is NO fun! Have busted my rear a few more times than I care to admit on it when we get ice here, which we get more than snow. You have some really interesting yard birds, The last Junco photo is what I just call the dark eyed as its the only one in my yard, the mystery one is def the odd ball!
    Poor hummers, they don't stay here they leave about Oct nailed a couple great shots of those 2!

    1. Yeah, it's all gone now but we might get another storm this week. Fun fun.

  2. Golden-crowned Sparrow as yard-bird.. the mind reels!

    1. They are SUPER common here in winter, there are always a few puttering around the yard.

  3. Nice junco spread. The goldfinch on ice looks hella frameable, and sick macro shit as usual.

    You like Widmer?

    1. I do, but mostly seasonal stuff. Must drink all the winter beers before winter ends. Or begins. Hmm.

  4. Hope you and the dogs are enjoying round two! I gotta put out some bird water tomorrow.

  5. I have never seen such happy birds!


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