At Christmas time, the Redpolls were spotting heading up the Klondike Highway for Dawson City. I know, because I was driving that highway and hit two of them.
Redpolls head north in the winter to breed. We see them usually in January to March. One day, they’ll just all leave.
Redpolls are seed eaters, and they looooove Nyjer/niger seed. There aren’t many birds I can get to a feeder up above the 64th parallel. Just chickadees, sometimes a gray jay, a few sparrows in summer. We saw some grosbeaks in the tree tops down the street the other day, but they don’t visit our feeders. Until the redpolls flock in. And they can empty a Nyjer seed feeder in a day. Here’s what they look like:
I didn’t take that picture. It’s usually too dim in winter for pretty bird photos. I didn’t take that top one either. Thanks Pexels for free images.
Every day I fill up the feeder in the morning for the birds. They come in a big flock and eat until dark. Even when it is -40 !!! How on earth do these little birdies survive the cold. Well, apparently they eat all day, and then shiver all night in a tree to stay warm.
We ran out of Nyjer a couple of weeks ago. And so did the only store in town that sells it. I tried to put those poor suffering birds out of my mind until the weekly delivery truck restocked the store.
But no seed arrived. Except for one big 50lb bag for $140. No no no, we reasoned, that’s ridiculous.
But those birds.
And thinking about them shivering all night in a tree.
Convinced there wasn’t another feeder in town.
We bought the seed.
Here’s a video this morning of the sounds of a birch tree full of redpolls right after I filled their feeder. They are a bit nervous of me standing there, and didn’t hit the feeder right away, but there are likely at least 50 of them in the tree beside me. It’s -38C / -36F at the time I took this video this morning. Cold enough to require mitts. Cold enough to the top of my nose to turn on and off the video recording on my iPhone.