Posted by: atowhee | November 30, 2019


This November ends cold…and dry.  Our total rainfall in McMinnville this month is less than an inch. That means we are nearly seven inches behind average for this time in the rainy season and November saw us get less than 12% of average rainfall for the month.  This morning dawned as coldest day of the season so far.  The birds in our garden were early, eager and eatin’.

7AM  Temp is 20.  The juncos are already picking sunflower seeds off the veranda.  I turn on the outside lights to see them better.  Official sunrise is almost a half hour away but there is a bit of a bright glow to the east under fairly clear skies.

745AM  The sun is now rising above the eastern horizon and natural light is increasing.  Several species are awake and active around our feeders which I have refilled.  I put warm water on the icy surface of both bird baths.  Present, coming and going, besides the juncos: Song Sparrow, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Bewick’s Wren, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, one female House Sparrow.

757AM  The Red-breasted Nuthatch makes first run on seeds, followed by male House Finch, alone.

802AM  First starling appears, then suddenly there are five hanging on the suet log and suet block.

804  Female Spotted Towhee makes first appearance.  She moves cautiously through the twelve-foot tangle of hydrangea vine that climb along the wooden back fence near the feeders.  Nearly always she stays on the ground for the seeds and suet bits there.  Many of the smaller birds use this sneak approach, unlike the screaming scrub-jays or wing-whistling doves that arrive with sound alarm announcing their coming.

805 Flicker lingers in opening in the thicket and early morning sun suffuses the plumage.  The bird does not approach a feeder, perhaps not wanting to deal with the starling gang that’s already at the suet. One House Sparrow doesn’t hesitate and joins starlings on the suet log.

807  First male House Sparrow appears.  He, too, joins starlings at the suet log.  Meanwhile, one starling flies to bird bath for a drink.  Juncos, juncos, juncos.

808  Four collared-doves arrives with wings whistling.  They feed on the ground, go to bird bath for drink.

809 First squirrel arrives.   Later there’ll be as many as five at one time.

815   24 degrees.

820 Pine Siskin lands on seed tray and feeds while House Finch is at other end of the tray.  Juncos jumping around in hydrangea and on the ground.

822 Siskin and a junco drink together from bird bath.

824 Flicker reappears still doesn’t feed.  Chestnut-backed Chickadee grabs a beak of suet.  They never linger at one place.  Larger birds like finches and sparrows will land and feed or hop about on the ground.  Nuthatch and chickadees grab a bite, and fly off to eat in private.  On the ground: juncos galore, Golden-crowned Sparrows (one mature, one  immature), squirrels.

827  On one platform a junco and House Finch have aerial tussle.  Junco prevails, finch retreats.

836   Temp now 26.  Sun is bright and above the neighbor’s roof line.

843   Persistent, consistent, resistant: juncos all around.

844   Immature Golden-crowned Sparrow with streaky chest on the ground, again.

856   We hit peak starling—ten in garden and bashing about the suet feeders.  They frighten the smaller birds.  They behave like a high school football team after a victory.

900   Temp now 29.6.

905  Female towhee sneaks back into view.

920  Nora the dog insists we go into the yard and play fetch.  While there a Red-breasted Sapsucker flies over our heads and lands atop one of the bare dawn redwoods.

930  Both Golden-crowned Sparrows feeding on the ground.  Other feeders now: House Sparrow (5), House Finch (4), junco (10), starling (12).

935  Temp finally above 32

942  Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) flies down to ground to feed.  Not all warbler species will do that.  This bird is often aggressive, especially toward wren, juncos, chickadees—birds he can bully.  The starlings now cover both suet feeders; at least a dozen are jostling and jousting.

945  Chestnut-back Chickadee sees approaching starling and leaves suet log.

1007  Starlings have departed, apparently even they have a limited capacity for suet.  Bewick’s Wren celebrates their absence by hopping through the hydrangea.

1020  Five squirrels now feeding, climbing and jumping about—pushy toward one another and scaring off the smaller birds.

1035  Temp is 39 in shade, 42 in sun.  Juncos…  Lout in the yard with dogs a robin flies over.  They will use bird baths, never the feeders.  Scrub-jay now heard more than seen unless I throw out peanuts.  Crows were heard at dawn but never come into our enclosed garden.  Red-breasted Nuthatch honking from inside the Colorado spruce.

1045  Warbler back feeding on the ground.  No starlings now.  Juncos…

1047   Temps: 47 in the sun, 43 in shade.  One squirrel seated in hanging seed tray.  Juncos, up to 20, scattered across the veranda and in nearby shrubs.  House Sparrow colony present.  One starling hanging on suet block.  Yellow0-rump and Golden-crowns present.  Lotsa of birds.  The starlings are sloppy eaters and constantly shower bits of suet onto the ground.  Other starlings and the smaller ground-feeders gather those bits.

1240PM   Whole junco flock and the warbler, larger birds stuffed and sleeping it off.

1257  Bewick’s Wren lands on seed tray, warbler chases it away.

118PM Spotted Towhee female returns, no sighting of male today.  Other misses today: hummer, Downy, Black-capped Chickadee.

130PM The local Bushtit gang arrives, nervous, unsettled, busy at both suet feeders. Hard to count but approximately 22.3 Bushtits in this flock.  They stay less than 90 seconds.  Gone to the next stop like the little express buses that they are.

235PM  Trio of Chestnut-backed Chickadees at feeders.  Yellow-rump chases one, then the next.  It is cloudy now and the sun’s warmth is partially blocked from the earth.  Juncos…their feeding will continue until after sunset.


Male flicker in rich, warm light of early morning:

Sapsucker up  high, warbler low down:

Note the Audubon Warbler’s golden crown patch in middle image.

Frosty dawn:

Cold bath any one?  Junco and siskin:

Bushtits attack suet:


And then:

820 NW 19th Street, McMinnville, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Nov 30, 2019 7:00 AM.
19 species

Eurasian Collared-Dove  4
Northern Flicker  1
Red-breasted Sapsucker  1
California Scrub-Jay  X
American Crow  X
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  3
Bushtit  20
Red-breasted Nuthatch  1
Bewick’s Wren  1
European Starling  12
American Robin  2
House Sparrow  6
House Finch  4
Pine Siskin  1
Dark-eyed Junco  20
Golden-crowned Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1     Audubon’s

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