January 21, 2015

Red and Blue Winter

By Dave Erler

As I write this we are nearly half way through the season and it’s turning into a red and blue winter. I’m not referring to politics in this case but the apparent number of Northern Cardinals and Blue Jays that have been visiting the Science Center feeding station. I have witnessed the same trend at my home and heard similar stories from other bird feeders in the area. If you have feeders at your home you may have noticed the same.

The question you may have is, “How do I know I’m not just seeing the same birds over and over as they come in for a free handout of sunflower seed?” It is usually pretty tough to tell one bird from another of the same species. (They probably say the same about us.) One way you can identify individual birds is to place a uniquely numbered metal band on one of their legs. For the past 36 years I’ve been banding birds at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center. From the data collected over the years this winter stands out. In an average winter of banding at the Center’s winter feeding station next to the Webster Education Building I might band three or four Northern Cardinals and a dozen Blue Jays. In the past three weeks we have captured, banded, and released 16 Cardinals and 28 Blue Jays and we still have two more months to go!

There are some interesting theories as to why we are seeing this change. If you’d like to find out what those theories are and are interested in learning more about banding, join us for Winter Bird Banding on any of the dates listed below. It’s a great opportunity to actively learn, see some of our winter birds close in hand, and quite possibly get to hold and release the birds we encounter. If the trend continues you may also see some of these blue and red birds of winter. Make a reservation as space is limited (call 603-968-7194 option 7). It’s been a fun year so far so I hope you will join us.
  • Saturday, January 31, 10:00 a.m. to Noon 
  • Saturday, February 14, 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. 
  • Wednesday, February 25, 10:00 a.m. to Noon 
  • Saturday, February 28, 10:00 a.m. to Noon 
  • Saturday, March 14, 10:00 a.m. to Noon

1 comment:

Vicki C. said...

How about "Red, Blue and Yellow Winter." I have seen numerous goldfinches at my feeders this winter. Before this year, I have never seen a goldfinch in the winter months at my home in Manchester. It is a welcome sight!