Signs of Spring

So I headed out to Mr. Neil's today to check out our bees supplies. They have been shipped, sans bees (we won't get those until April) but I tried on some of the gear and looked over the hives. They need to be put together, which looks like it's going to be an all day project that I will put off until next week. The instructions say that I am to use nails to put the hive together, but I'm wondering if I can use screws instead? I like screws because A. I have a tendency to split wood and put nails in crooked when using a hammer and B. I tend to smash my finger tips. Plus, who doesn't love using a power screw driver?

Mr. Neil's yard had ample helpings of snow, but if I aimed my camera just right I could get photos that reminded me of summer. Check out this tufted titmouse, that background could pass for green summer foliage. The weather today was terrific, a perfect day to play in snow. It was in the forties and bright and sunny. These are the times when we think, "Wow, winter really isn't that bad!"

Because of Non Birding Bill's rehearsal schedule I haven't been out and tending to the bird feeders as often as I usually do. When we arrived, I swear the birds recognize our vehicle and started swarming the feeders. This bird in the tree (above) caught my eye, I haven't seen one since last winter. This is the female of the species, can you guess what she is? Here's the male:

Purple finches! Early on in my birding career I was just frustrated trying to tell purple finches and house finches apart, but now I just know them as soon as I see them. Female purple finches always look like mini female rose-breasted grosbeaks to me.

The finches were just a delight. They were all over the sunflower chips. Look at this guy above, you can see some of his yellow starting to come in--breeding plumage--whoot!

On this little dude you can see the black cap starting to come in on top. It's weird, these are one of our latest nesters. Goldfinches don't get busy with the eggs until July but they start getting patches of their breeding plumage in February. By July, some house finches will be contemplating a third brood for the summer.

I finally get to go back to banding tomorrow--it's been weeks between snow storms and my travel schedule. And then this weekend it will be off to a weekend course in beginning bee keeping.

Per advice from the comments section, we have named the hives after two other friends that were visiting at Mr. Neil's today: Kitty and Olga. I wonder which will be the better honey producer? I just hope I don't kill them.