Winter Residents Arrive To What Remains

“Winter is a season of recovery and preparation.” ~ Paul Theroux

Every year, warblers, water fowl, and other winter bird residents arrive right on schedule (early to late fall) to our woods and creek. In a few more months, some of them will move on again to nesting grounds to the north, but in the meantime, they dig in here.

Birds are migratory, so these arrivals are cyclical; we can count on them every year.

It’s a fine place to be, if you asked me, with water, plenty of food and berries, with trees and shrubs for both foraging and protection from aerial predators. With continuing destruction of habitat to make way for 6,000 more homes and subsequent toll road, schools, and churches, birds have few places left for refuge. It’s no wonder our 1.5 acre space is a welcomed paradise.

Aerial View — Little Slice of Heaven

When we moved here, we purposely cleared the thick underbrush of our woods to better enjoy (and camp in) the space by the creek. We did it for us, not thinking of others. And while a turf lawn certainly does its part in choking out woody vines like poison ivy, removing the under-story eliminated habitat for specific species of birds.

We started birding in earnest a couple of years ago and now are rethinking this approach.

Slowly we are ‘re-wilding’ the back of our property (where we are exempt from HOA scrutiny), allowing shrubs to grow into unkempt trees, connect spaces around our home directly to the woods sprawling out back. Our front yard may be for the neighbors enjoyment — with its meticulous landscaping, annually replaced annuals, chiseled shrubs and pruned trees — but out back beyond the prying eyes of neighbors is left to the birds.

As I work on this post, I’m listening to an earlier radio show this week by Diane Rehm on Conservation in the 21st Century. I bookmark it here because it is one I will listen to again and again. If you have time, I urge you to give it an hour of your time too.

Green spaces all around us are disappearing fast. Just this week,  we watched helplessly as another section of woods were cleared for homes across the road from us. It’s now up to us to keep our little 1.5 acre space accessible to birds and wildlife. It’s all they’ve got anymore.

And it’s all we can do with what little we have control over.

The storms of the past weekend brought with them a high pressure system has brought beautiful weather throughout the week. These blue-skied days make it difficult to stay indoors and work; a few times, we brought the Internet hot spot to the picnic table out front.

Fresh air is good for everyone.

In the mornings, Wood Duck males are working their magic to pair up for the winter with willing females. They will hang around and strengthen bonds for several months as we observe stealthily from the swing, then move on to nesting boxes and trees to the east of us. I simply must try better to get video of them.

We heard our first large flock of Sandhill Cranes fly over the house this week, the signal for us to get into pursuit of the last handful of birds for our annual species list. As of today, we are holding right at 241.

This is a collection from the short walks in and around property.

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee
Year ’round resident

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing Arrives

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Year ’round resident

Pine Warbler (M)

Pine Warbler Arrives

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe Arrives

Tri-colored Heron

Tri-colored Heron
Year ’round resident

Cattle Egret

Snowy Egret
Year ’round resident

Swamp Sparrow

Lone Swamp Sparrow Arrives

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler Arrives

Wilson's Warbler (F)

Wilson’s Warbler Arrives
(Brazos Bend, earlier in the week)

13 thoughts on “Winter Residents Arrive To What Remains

  1. The more wild habitat we offer, the more birds we get. Great to hear of your de-landscaping plans, Shannon. And the visiting and resident birds you photograph here, which are awesome (oh to have the pine warbler near!) just prove what a wilderness you have. Great post! I love the snowy egret photo.

    Like

    1. You know the drill! I’d like to think we’ve been instrumental to spreading the word to neighbors as well. The HOA likes for us to ‘remove dead trees and limbs’ from the creek’s edge (and when they fall into the water), but I encourage those behind us to LEAVE THEM BE. Thanks to these miniature refuges, we now enjoy 20-25 Wood Ducks that roost there every night this time of year.

      They are so worth the NOT micro-managing! Thanks for the kind words, Jet. I think you and I are on the same page. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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