The early bird gets the worm, or at least that’s what they say. This past weekend I found myself awake and watching the bird feeders at my family’s home in Coldwater, Ontario before the birds arrived. It was a cold and rainy morning – maybe that’s why they were late to begin their seed and suet feast.
Growing up, I rarely took notice of the birds in my backyard. It wasn’t until I took up photography (just over a year ago) that birds finally caught my attention. Now they are some of my favourite subjects. Backyard feeders allow me to indulge in my new hobby from the comfort of my home. If I am feeling particularly hesitant about venturing outdoors, I simply glance out the window to spot cedar waxwings, blue jays and black-capped chickadees – all of which are frequent our feeders.
Chickadees are the most common bird at the feeders and all around my family’s home. They quickly hop from branch to branch, making them a challenge to photograph but so much fun to watch.
For those of us with winter bird feeders at our homes, getting involved with citizen science is easy. Project FeederWatch, run by Bird Studies Canada and The Cornell Lab, engages bird-feeding homeowners in the collection of data on winter bird populations. Visit the FeederWatch website to sign-up for the program, learn about photo contests, read blogs and improve your bird identification skills.
If you tire of the chickadees and jays and want to catch sight of more elusive birds, visit a local nature reserve or wildlife centre with binoculars and field guide in tow. For an up-close and personal look at birds of prey, visit Wye Marsh in Midland.
Lindsay Barden is a graduate of Fleming College’s Environmental Visual Communications program and a former Ontario Nature Communications Intern.