Cold Weather Birds

We woke up to 12o F (-11o C) in central Colorado — we have yet to have a significant snowfall in the foothills west of Denver. It’s been a little odd to see so many different types of winter birds coming to the feeder without snow. But they are coming!

Male Sparrow_edited-1-copy

House sparrows. House sparrows were introduced into North America in 1851 and 1852. They quickly covered the US and most of Canada and Mexico.



House finches. According to Birds of North America (, house finches started out as a desert species of California and Mexico. They were released in New York City in 1939, and have exploded across the country.


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Collared doves. These birds were introduced to North America in the 1970s, and have since spread across the continent. Scientists worry that they will compete with native doves, like the mourning dove, but the verdict is still out.



Black-capped chickadees. Always in motion, these guys flit from tree to feeder to bushes.


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Red-breasted nuthatches.  Five years ago, I rarely saw nuthatches at my feeders. Now they are fairly common. (Nuthatches paring up)


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Dark-eyed juncos. I rarely see dark-eyed juncos when there isn’t any snow on the ground. This year, I’ve seen a lot of them.


Male Hairy Woodpecker-1

Hairy woodpecker. People in our neighborhood trim the deadwood out of their trees pretty quickly, so it’s a treat when they stop by.


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Bushtit. These little guys usually fly around in a flock of 20 or so, chipping constantly to keep in contact with each other. (Sharp-shinned hawk misses flicker)

We hope your holidays are filled with as many interesting visitors as ours!





Mourning Doves bullied by newcomer Eurasian Collared Doves

There was a good article in the Denver Post this morning on how Eurasian Collared Doves have moved into every county in Colorado.

Although they make a nasal honking sound, Collared Doves are beautiful birds. The problem is that they seem to be competing with native Mourning Doves. (By the way, in Natural Resources/Ecology we don’t refer to animals as “good” or “bad” as the Denver Post link does. We may or may not like what they do to an ecosystem, but that doesn’t make a species inherently positive or negative. It just is.)


White-pink Eurasian Collared Dove.

Collared Doves can be white to tan to grey, but all have a dark ring around their necks.







Mourning Doves on a feeder.



Mourning Doves are large grey-tan birds, with three dots on their wings.


You can see the three dark spots on the Mourning Doves wings much better here.







Here is a picture of a Collared Dove on the left and two Mourning Doves on the right. In this picture, they are trying to ignore each other, but I have seen the Collared Doves chase the Mourning Doves around the yard.

The two species don’t have exactly the same niche. We’ve had Eurasian Collared Doves in the backyard all winter. In contrast, the Mourning Doves just returned on Saturday. It will be interesting to see what other differences in niche emerge.

The Denver Post article does make a nice point at the end that Cooper’s hawks are increasing in numbers and will certainly take advantage of these large meals on wings.