Monday, December 26, 2011

Birding Fun in New Hampshire

The sun is up, the snow is starting to melt, and the birds are coming out here in New Hampshire. The first and most flamboyant representative of the avian world was this Black-Capped Chickadee. These handsome and chubby little birds are very curious, and while they can get bossed around by the Blue Jays, I still deem them to be the mascots of the wintery forest.

To my surprise, there was also a strong presence of American Gold Finches around Granite Lake. Since I've been rather spoiled with my Goldfinches, and seen either the non-molting finches in Phoenix or the American Goldfinches in Iowa during the Summer, this was my first sighting of the Goldfinches in their winter eclipse plumage. It's not quite a match for the dandelion yellow they display in the warmer months, but it was still neat to see.

Another unexpected sighting was this little Brown Creeper. Although Creepers are not rare, it's always a bit of a surprise to see them simply because they're small, camouflaged, quiet, and solitary. They range over the entire U.S. and don't mind the winter cold, but given their diminutive behavior, it's just one of those birds you seldom plan on seeing or anticipate like you might with some of the louder or more gregarious woodland birds.

They cling tight and close to the tree trunks, running (creeping) up and down and upside down, gleaning insects and whatever else they find with their decurved beaks.

The White-Breasted Nuthatch is another guaranteed sighting in the winter months. It behaves much like the Creeper, but with its black cap, white undersides, and larger size, it's much more conspicuous. 

Birding in this true winter setting, in these frosted woods, is much different from birding in the Arizona chaparral. Everything is much slower, much quieter, much more determined, and very placid. It's chilly and peaceful, with these little birds providing the only flashes of color and movement apart from the falling leaves and dripping snow.