Chirps and Cheeps

A Photo Journal of My Birding Experiences & Observations

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  An Overwintering Belted Kingfisher

Published: February 14, 2024
Tags: General Observations, belted kingfisher, winter, overwinter, brown creeper, golden-crowned kinglet, tufted titmouse, red fox

We've had an unusually mild winter so far.  We've received far less snow than normal, easily a couple of feet below normal according to our local news station, and we've only experienced 1 major weather event this winter.  I'll take it!

But this appears to be a trend and that worries some people.  One of the signs of this trend is that we are seeing many more birds making the gamble to overwinter, which can be very risky, depending on how the winter goes.  The fact that more appear to be taking this risk gives one pause.

This year, those risk-takers may fare better than their migrant counterparts.  Advantages of not migrating are numerous, including avoiding the physical dangers of travels hundreds / thousands of miles where they can potentially encounter dangerous weather events, predators, and unknown food availability.  The places where they migrate too are suffering habitat loss and human encroachment just like their northern residences.  So, it can be a coin toss as to whether staying through a possible harsh winter versus migrating hundreds to thousands of miles is worth the risk or not.

Apparently, more of our normal migrants are choosing to gamble on our winters being milder.  If they should survive, they are first to claim their breeding grounds and perhaps hardier from having missed the rigors of an arduous migration journey.

The Belted Kingfisher pictured below prompted these thoughts when I paused to admire him today.  I recalled many winters when I hadn't had a sight of a Belted Kingfisher well into March or April. As I pondered this, it was an especially lovely treat to see him perched over the open waters of a creek with a buffet of fish below.  What will it be like in 10 years from now, though, I wonder???

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A Belted Kingfisher perched over a creek

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I've seen more Golden-crowned Kinglets than usual this winter. Another sign of milder winters?

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Brown Creeper

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A Tufted Titmouse, my "spark bird"!

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A Red Fox turns to look at me

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