Posted by: atowhee | March 28, 2023


Its raining constantly today. The bird world whirl s as usual. Birds are real life, not social media, not sport. Much of their life must continue, rain or shine.

Many years ago I eyewitnessed how weather can and cannot affect birds. It was late April in San Francisco. Usually that’s a good tike for migrants. Not too hot, calm weather except for some wind. An unusual storm blew in. Came straight down from the north, complete with strong winds and heavy rain. The wind was blowing straight south. Often a good time to bird is right after rain stops, even briefly. Hungry birds begin to feed while they can. I went out in the gale that morning hoping to catch such a break. I went to a nearby zemi-wild patch of Monterey cypress with lots of underbrush. There I watched as the compulsion to migrate smashed into the storm winds. A flock of dozens of yellow and orange-crowned warblers were migrating north while storm pushed in the opposite direction. In the canopy or tall shrubs the wind was stronger than the soaked warblers. They stayed near the ground where the plants cut the wind’s strength. I watched as drenched little warblers hopped from one shrub to the next, each time moving a little further north. Sometimes they would pass me less than three feet away. Must move ahead, the compulsion said. We were a half mile from the Golden Gate and all that open water before they could reach Marin. Did they make the leap against the wind and waves? I shall never know.

Not nearly that severe here in our dripping garden. But the rains have delayed perhaps, but not altered, the imperative patterns. I saw six Bushtits together, the others having split off into nesting pairs. The turkeys come no more. I think we are too far from the dense fir forests where they go to nest on the ground. Two pairs of chickadees were fighting with one another at a suet feeder–territoriality is the spring reality. The doves are all paired now. The wintering sparrows are in spring plumage and even the goldfinches have lost much of their post-breeding drab, replaced by real golden yellow. A House Finch was singing in the rain. Gene Kelly would be proud. Click here for a clip of that movie.

For the first time this year I saw two Bewick’s Wrens in our garden. They weren’t “together” but were in same area at same time, each was eating suet bits dropped from hanging feeders. The wrens and sparrows and starlings, yellow-rumps, and even flicker will eat fallen suet. All the warblers go to the suet block, as do chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and jays. Nit the wrens and rarely the juncos. I have never seen other sparrow family members or finches eat suet.

A chickadee mystery: what are they eating from inside magnolia blossoms? They eat it in place, don’t beak it and fly off like they do seeds and insects usually. Pollen is protein-rich, is that what they’re eating? The account in birds of the world offered no clues.

A Coop flew by our window, I think he had lunch in his talons.

About bird speed–click here.

Renewable energy sources now greater than coal burning…(click here) in US.



  1. Nice job describing the plight of migrating warblers and songbirds in the midst of pelting wind and rain.

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