Birds in Winter

At least 20 kinds of birds can be seen in Douglas Park during the winter months.

A few kinds of sparrows stick around Douglas Park all winter long. American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos are seen most often, but some years Fox Sparrows and other kinds stick around at least through December and even into January.

You can usually find at least a small flock of American Goldfinches eating seeds in Douglas Park’s nature sanctuary, either in the meadow or reeds around the lagoon. During late winter, male goldfinches also eat tree buds to gain the pigments they need to grow bright yellow feathers for the summer.

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American Goldfinch eating elm buds in the sanctuary. (February, 2017)

This winter there has been a large flock with many kinds of birds hanging out between the Cultural Center and the bridge over the lagoon. Usually the flock includes chickadees, a creeper and nuthatch, up to three kinds of woodpeckers, a half dozen cardinals, and a couple of kinds of sparrows. With many eyes on watch, the flock has lots of warning if a predator approaches.

You can often hear or see an American Robin in Douglas Park, even in winter. As long as they can find enough fruit to eat, robins can survive the cold.

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American Robin eating a dried crab apple. (December, 2016)

Raptors, like American Kestrels and Red-tailed Hawks, can be seen hunting over Douglas Park’s fields and meadows on winter days. American Crows don’t want hawks on their territories, so they try to chase them away. (The hawks often ignore the crows.)

When searching for raptors in Douglas Park’s trees, you can also find birds’ nests from previous summers, like the Baltimore Oriole nest, below. (The orioles that built it flew south back in August.)

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Baltimore Oriole nest near the bridge over the lagoon. (January, 2017)

Wood Ducks are seen less often as the year ends, but Mallards can be seen on the lagoons as long as there is open water. Canada and other geese stay in the Douglas Park as long as the snow is not too deep, since they eat grass on the playing fields and lawns. Herring Gulls like a mix of ice and water, since they eat creatures from the ice (dead or alive).

 

Spring migration can begin in February if the weather’s right. Many years male Red-winged Blackbirds arrive early. They set up territories at the edges of the lagoons and sing to defend their patches from other blackbirds.

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Male Red-winged Blackbird singing in a Cottonwood tree at the edge of the sanctuary lagoon. (February, 2016)

Most of spring migration takes place from March through May. To see photos of birds that migrate to or through Douglas Park in spring, go to this Nature in Douglas Park page:

BIRDS IN SPRING