While home for holidays in I didn’t just go chasing after a Northern Hawk Owl.  I also watched the feeders frequently, often outside my parents’ house hidden in a woodpile.  Seriously.  In a woodpile.  You see, the woodpile is next to the deck which is where the feeders are, and the deck is attached to the family room, where the fireplace is, so, it makes sense that to get near the birds without intervening glass interfering with photography, I needed to hide in the woodpile.  Perfectly sensible.  And the jokes about going out behind the woodshed were actually pretty funny.  Not only that, but the woodpile serves as habitat.  I watched both Carolina Wrens and Black-capped Chickadees foraging there, and it is only a matter of time before chipmunks colonize the crevices.

Carolina Wren in a hemlock

The hit birds of my visit were the abundant Pine Siskins, which had visited the nyger feeder in ones and twos mixed in with American Goldfinches for about a week before I visited.  A walk one morning around the neighborhood led to me finding a flock of 35 of the winter finches feeding on one of the few Eastern Hemlocks in the area with a decent amount of cones, and when I arrived back at the house I told my father that if the siskins followed me home he would be out a fortune in nyjer seed.  Two hours later the gluttons arrived and made me wish I a bird seed company.

Pine Siskins will resort to desperate measures when all the perches are taken

The siskins even turned to sunflower seeds for nourishment when the finch feeder got too crowded.  It was a joy to see so many: our high count for the time I was there was 23 siskins in the back yard, with at least that many goldfinches.

But neither finch managed to outnumber the flocks of finely-dressed juncos.  There were as many as 55 at a time in the yard, and when they flushed the yard was briefly alive with flickering white tail feathers as the juncos flew for the hemlocks.

Dark-eyed Junco

It was also nice to see the neighborhood flock of Blue Jays come in on occasion to snag some seeds and suet, though, when I was hidden in the woodpile they mostly just left one bird behind to sit high up in a tree and scream at me.  Ingrates!

Blue Jay deciding which part of the log it would like to pull a piece of suet from

Of course, other birds were around, and an early morning walk with my mom one day turned up Eastern Bluebirds, Hooded Mergansers (in a pond down the road), American Robins and a bunch of other birds.  Another walk, with Raven, led to a fly-by Pileated Woodpecker and another encounter with the Hooded MergansersAmerican Tree Sparrows, Golden-crowned Kinglets and Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers were all in the neighborhood and most came to the feeders.  It’s nice to see the suite of birds kicking around the old homestead, and I hope to get home again soon to see what else might be hiding in some the surrounding forested areas.

Tufted Titmouse on a window feeder

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.