Birding when the weather turns cold

The air is cooler and the leaves are falling, dropping bright colours on our sidewalks. The last minute birds, butterflies and hawks are flying south.  It’s time to wear your warm jackets, winter hats, and gloves to start looking for fall and winter birds.

How can you help and enjoy the birds during the coming winter? Setting up a few bird feeders will give youngsters a great educational experience and teach them how to enjoy nature and birds.  When putting up bird feeders, remember to place them in a sheltered area (out of wind and rain) and take care to find a location for them safely away from cats and other predators.  Fill the feeders with black oil sunflower seeds and suet high energy food (that you can buy or make on your own).

What types of birds might you see around your house and in the Beach during the fall and winter?

Northern Cardinal PHOTO: Ann Brokelman

You might see Northern Cardinals, Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadee, Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, White Breasted Nuthatch, Junco and many more.   Down at Tommy Thompson Park, Cherry Beach and Ashbridges Bay there are a wide variety of ducks including Ring-billed Duck, Golden Eyes, Long Tailed Ducks and Red Breasted Mergansers which will soon arrive for the winter months.

My favourite fall and winter bird is the Northern Cardinal (cardinalis cardinalis). It’s a mid-sized songbird. The male cardinal is easy to spot with the bright red with black face and red bill. The female, however, is greyish buff, with red on crest, wings and tail with a pink bill.

The male cardinal sings in a loud, clear whistle from the top of a tree or another high location to defend his territory. The song sounds like “cheerer-a-dote, cheer-a-dote-dote-dote,” or “purdy, purdy, purdy…whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit,”or “what-cheer, what-cheer… wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet.”

Keep a birding book or take photos of the birds you see this fall and winter. Have your parents help you and then email me what you see in your backyard  (

If you need help getting started, you can email me.  I plan to write an article about your experiences, using your photographs. Have fun!

Thanks to my friends who always make birding an adventure, and Carol Paar who helps me edit my articles for Beach Metro News.

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