The past week has been rough on the birds, or at least it would seem in the backyard. Our temperatures have been wildly swinging but are now steadily dropping, as are the few remaining leaves clinging to our sumac and honey locust trees. The sharp-shinned hawk made a startling appearance, the bird bath has been icing over each night, and the deck has been winterized with the furniture piled up in a sheltered corner and the feeders moved slightly to be out of the snowfall range. To a bird, each of these changes adds up to more uncertainty in an already uncertain season.
For several days the birds have been absent, and only today have more been returning to sample the new offering of seeds, but they are doing it with gusto. The California quail are still conspicuous in their absence, but they roam throughout the neighborhood and are sure to return as the season progresses and word gets out about the piles of cracked corn awaiting their scratching toes on my deck.
But even as birds seems to leave in winter, more will arrive. Birders are abuzz with the thought of this year's irruptions, and just today I spotted a flock of cedar waxwings in a neighbor's tree, the first time I've seen them so close in the neighborhood. Who knows what feathered friends may be about this winter, but I'm ready - and waiting.