Thursday, February 24, 2011

A dash of cocoa and a sprinkle of cinnamon, please!

I’m not talking about having a creamy cappuccino on a winter afternoon. I’m talking about the feathers of the most beautiful bird at my feeder this winter—an Eastern Towhee. Well, I think she’s the most beautiful. And she’s certainly the most singular. I've not seen any others.

I first noticed her early in December, shortly after that first major snowfall of the season. I couldn’t quite believe my eyes. For the longest time, she seemed content to fly cautiously between the blue spruce and a feeder a few feet away to pick up the fallen seeds scattered on the ground. But she soon discovered the other feeder, the one for the finches and other small birds. This one hangs in the Burning Bush in the front garden and is filled with tiny Nyjer seeds. Smart and adaptable, the towhee now cleans up what the finches leave behind, the seeds that have dropped in the tray. So I rarely see her on the ground these days. I’ve also seen her up in the branches of the bush, leaning out to snatch the odd remaining berry and hanging out with the female cardinals, the juncos and the American tree sparrows.

She’s a joy to watch. To learn about the Eastern Towhee, check out the Cornell Ornithology Lab website.

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