Regrettably, the big story on the Island for the month of February is not the birds. The story these days is the snow and ice. In February this year we had a record 222.8 centimeters of snow. Needless to say that has made it a rough month for birds and birders. Those with feeders have had snow around their yards and houses so high that it has limited their access and many have just resorted to simply throwing food out on the ground to feed as best they can. The same has been recorded throughout the Maritimes
Fortunately, most of the birds we have been seeing are happy with food most anywhere they can find it.The finches are here in numbers. Common Redpolls, Pine Siskins and American Goldfinch joining the local Chickadees and Juncos. Other birds that don’t mind eating off the ground are Snow Bunting, Horned Lark and Lapland Longspur.
Other birds not always seen at our feeders include pheasants and partridge. We have had reports of a number of flocks of Gray Partridge coming to feeders. I have not had them in my yard but have been regularly seeing a small flock down the road. With more recent snow, I have not seen them lately but hopefully they have found themselves a cozy farmyard in which to spend the rest of the winter.
Another of the northern birds that are common this year and have been seen in large flocks is the Bohemian Waxwings. These birds are visiting our yards looking for any fruit sources they might find. Locally they have been visiting berry bushes, flowering crabapple and even decorative berries in outdoor arrangements.
Another bird that has been reported this month is the Sharp-shinned Hawk. We have had numerous reports and photos of them. It looks like they are hungry also.
On the other hand, all the snow and ice has been hard on our waterfowl. We have had numerous reports of Megansers and Goldeneye, as well as others, that are struggling to get through the winter. Many have been found and turned in to area veterinarians to try to save. Apparently, they are not finding enough food.
It has been a tough February for us all.