Christmas Tree Bird Count

I know temps were cold for this year's count, but I really don't know what all the fuss was about. I found my count quite easy and with a surprising variety bird species!

Many of the usual suspects were found including white-breasted nuthatch and downy woodpecker...

...and a red-bellied woodpecker working the thicker branches.

There's a black-capped chickadee that was technically not on the tree, but it was in the general count area. Besides, it has the important duty of keeper of the mistletoe in the Stiteler household.

A male and female pheasant were found lurking on the tree as well.

Many people are surprised to find robins in winter, but a few always hang out if they can find berries, insect larvae and open water.

I ran into a bird watching Santa Claus trailed by cardinal and shocked at the largest blue jay he had ever seen.

There were some interesting birds to be noted, like the above male goldfinch still in breeding plumage even though it's December.

And another bird that I was surprised to find in December and in breeding plumage: a male indigo bunting!

This poor barn swallow was way off course. Perhaps it had migration issues because its tail is chipped?

Here was a surprise rose-breasted grosbeak added to the count.

And a scarlet tanager--who knew?

A little pishing revealed not only a cedar waxwing on the right, but a tiny house wren (on the left)! Not only is it late in year to be seeing a house wren, it was checking out a nest box. I could not find a mate with it, so perhaps it was just roosting in the bird house?

Speaking of nesting, check this out! A male and female cardinal nesting in December is unbelievable enough, but sharing the same time?? It looks like they are using the power of glitter to keep their nest alive.

Here's another one for the crazy nesting file: a Canada goose--with a gosling! Now, the goose only has one chick, so she hasn't been doing well, but to get one egg to hatch in this weather is well, remarkable to say the least. I have to say, I'm not thrilled with who ever banded that goose. I know you want neck tags noticeable, but that bow is a little much.

I found an eastern bluebird roosting in an old bird box. Whoever is the landlord of this bluebird trail also put some festive lights on. There were several bluebirds seen on this tree--at least three!

Birds do need to be sure and stay tucked in safety in the tree, a snowy owl was on the prowl looking for potential prey.

Speaking of raptors, I also found Santa Claus riding a bald eagle. I asked if Santa had a falconry permit for that bird and he looked nervous and mentioned something about reindeer having a bout of flu. I suspect he doesn't have the proper permits. Hmm, perhaps he should just go back to watching blue jays.

Here was a penguin which was just a shock. I'm not certain of the species, perhaps a variant of little blue penguin? How the heck did it get to Minnesota? It seems a tad domesticated, since it's holding a sign with my husband's name on it--is it an escapee? It may not be countable.

I thought the penguin was the rarest bird of the day, but I was wrong, it was an ivory-billed woodpecker. Who knew they were reverse migrants? Apparently, that's why no one can get a photo of them in Arkansas or Florida, they go north in the winter.

I ran into another fellow bird watcher on the tree. We compared notes and on our Christmas Tree Bird Count we tallied 21 species, including several different cardinals and bluebirds. Not a bad day for winter in Minnesota.