No, no, I didn't mean these two helpers, although Sophie enjoys watching bird antics as much as anyone, as does Toby--when it's not interfering with his nap time, that is. No, the visitors I was referring to are two of my grandchildren who spent the past week with us while their parents were off on a much-needed vacation. Granddaughter, who is 7 1/2, is not only my garden helper, but also a lover of anything in nature. She is not merely satisfied to name the birds with my help, she must consult my Birds of Illinois field guide and then go to the computer to look up the species for even more information before confirming its identity. (The Cornell University website, which is included on the GBBC links, is a great source for identifying birds, by the way, if you've never checked it out.)
But there was no need for either the field guide or the internet to identify the few birds we saw this past weekend. Just the week before, we had so many different birds visiting our yard. I was so happy to see the downy woodpecker finally come for a visit, after being absent all winter long.
Bluejays and cardinals were easy to spot in the trees and as they visited the feeders, though too quick for anything but this one photo.
And the most exciting for me of all, the red-bellied woodpecker visited briefly. You'll have to look very closely to see him hiding here on a branch. The red-bellied woodpeckers are not seen as often at my house as the downys, so their few visits are always cause for excitement.
The week of February 7--12 was bitterly cold, and there was still a heavy snow cover. But last week's warm spell, which reached into the upper 50's at times and melted all but a few piles of snow, may have prompted the birds to change their patterns. Even the dark-eyed juncos, which have been around all winter long, were nowhere to be found during Bird Count weekend. I don't know; maybe they all decided to go skiing in Wisconsin for the weekend.