Once the summer residents head south and cold, gray weather invades the Heartland, the sound of birdsong nearly disappears until late February. Peeps and twitters rise from the thickets, the raucous calls of jays, crows and woodpeckers ring through the woodlands, the yank of nuthatches echo through our yards, the hoot of owls greet the dusk and the clamour of geese stirs the soul. But only a few birds bring a cheerful tune to our bleak winter days.
Chickadees, undaunted by the cold and snow, sing their way through the season, keeping hope alive for the rest of us. White-throated sparrows, having summered in Canada, are perfectly comfortable in our winter weather; though their distinctive tune is shorter and less intense than it will be next spring, they refuse to spend the season in silence. Finally, the Carolina wren, while looking out of place in the snowy landscape, is feisty enough to sing any time he wants: winter be damned!