Beautiful Freeloaders

Winter returned to the Colorado Front Range the day before I did; as a result, the resident birds on our farm have been especially active and conspicuous, including the usual mix of chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, magpies, doves, woodpeckers and house finches.  Joining them is a small flock of lesser goldfinches that, contrary to past experience, have stayed for the winter (see More Tardy Migrants).

Before I left town, I made sure that the thistle (niger or nyjer) feeder was full; ignored by squirrels and most of our avian residents, this seed is favored by most finches and was utilized daily by our beautiful freeloaders.  I was thus pleased to find that they were still on the farm when I returned from Missouri and it is now clear that they will stay through the winter.  Having discovered comfortable lodging in a large juniper on the south (sunny) side of our house and taking advantage of the handouts, the lesser goldfinches had little reason to migrate.

On the other hand, these attractive songbirds would have surely survived without my assistance; there are plenty of weed seeds to provide nourishment and our mild winter weather, perhaps related to our warming global climate, made their stay more tolerable.  Whatever their reason for staying on the farm, I appreciate their company.