IN THE BACKYARD : Philadelphia late-November
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Autumn is an awesome time for birds here in the Philadelphia region. The weather has been mild, with plenty of warm, sunny days to study and photograph my backyard birds.
It’s good to “leave the leaves” for wildlife, creating natural weed barriers and soil enrichments, as well as homes for caterpillars and other insects. I rake and spread leaf-litter under hedgerows and in planting beds, providing attractive micro-habitats for sparrows. White-throated Sparrows and beautiful Fox Sparrows double-scratch through the leaves in search of invertebrates or seed.
In the past two weeks, I’ve enjoyed watching a female Red-breasted Nuthatch make frequent forays into the peanut feeder, often yielding to its larger cousin, the resident White-breasted Nuthatch. A lone female Purple Finch visited sporadically, and for a few days a male Golden-crowned Kinglet flitted through shrubs and trees, occasionally flashing his brilliant yellow-and-red crown.
Unfortunately, it seems like every House Sparrow in the neighborhood has decided to congregate in our backyard! The flock numbers more than 50, and they gobble seed at an astonishing rate. Northern Cardinals are not deterred, and as many as six males are seen at the same time, chasing each other around the feeding station. They supplement their diet with hawthorn berries found in the opposite corner of our small suburban yard. Downy and Red-bellied Woodpeckers visit daily, along with pairs of Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. There’s always something to see out the back window, giving me joy and pleasure at the wonders of nature!
updated November 16-30, 2020