As the year ends

Yesterday, after a first week of unusually cold temperatures, we got a dusting of snow. It was not enough to merit shoveling. My snow-duty partner had already spread a little salt on the sidewalk, enough to eliminate any danger of slipping. I therefore had time to take a walk around the garden with my camera.

A little snow makes everything look prettier. But it also makes it harder for our winged winter residents to find something to eat. Yesterday, a friendly neighbor had scattered some bird seeds through the fence onto the garden path. Sparrows, mourning doves and a robin were visibly thankful.

Sparrows eating seeds.

Our patio table with a white table cloth and a white-throated sparrow.

White-throated sparrows can be seen in New York year-round, but in winter they are a lot more numerous. Indeed, the appearance of many white-throated sparrows in fall is a clear sign that winter will arrive soon. White-throated sparrows are a regular and welcome guest in our garden. On a sunny day, one can hear their song “O-oh sweet Canada, Canada, Canada” even in the middle of winter. Yesterday, though, all birds were busy eating and apparently not in the mood for singing.

Seed pods of hibiscus and tree peonies with white bonnets, more white-throated sparrows.

House sparrows and mourning doves are permanent residents in the garden. The sparrows breed in the bird houses that we hang up for them. Where the mourning doves build their nests, we still have to observe. Yesterday, month away from breeding season, both birds joined the white-throated sparrows at the feeding site. They flew up when I approached with my camera and took perch on the grape vine nearby. Their fluffed-up feathers show how cold it was.

On the perch

Brr, it is cold!

The forecast tells us that it will be very cold for another week with temperatures in the single digits during some nights. Good that our birds have warm feathers and also a little shelter in the garden, and the plants are dormant and safe from the frost.

On this lasts day of 2017, I wish gardeners, garden-lovers and their friends here and everywhere a happy and peaceful new year!