Here are photos of a baker's dozen common birds that you will see in central Minnesota in the winter months.


Black-capped Chickadee

Left the familiar Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla) and right, a group of House Sparrows (Passer domesticus), which you will typically see moving around in flocks and mobbing the bird feeders.
House Sparrows


Northern Cardinal

Male Northern Cardinal
The Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) keep to their territory all winter, but are willing to let other Cardinals into the vicinity to eat. The females tend to be more tolerant of other females than males are of other males. Left - the male; right - the female.
Female Northern Cardinal


American goldfinch

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Male Goldfinch
American goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) in their winter garb. Left - the male; right - the female.
Female goldfinch


House finch

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Male Housefinch
House finches (Carpodacus mexicanus) will winter over also. Like all the above birds, sunflower oil seeds are the favorite. Left - the male; right - the female. Like sparrows they tend to feed in flocks.
Female Housefinch


Purple Finch


Blue Jay

Purple finch
Left: A female Purple Finch (Carpodacus purpureus). The white eyebrow makes an identification difference with the female House Finch. Right: While not normally a visitor to the seed feeder, this easily identified Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) gives it a try.
Blue Jay


White-breasted Nuthatch

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Another winter resident is the White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinenis), seen on the right in the pose which you will typically see- moving down a tree trunk from top to bottom searching for insects and eggs hidden in the bark.


Pine Siskin



Pine siskins
Arrivals from further north during our winter are these birds. Left: A pair of Pine Siskins (Carduelis pinus) with one doing a "Look at me Ma!". This bird repeatedly would eat thistle seeds upside down. Male and female look the same. They are similar to the Purple Finch but lack the Finches' eyebrow, have a smaller bill, more heavily striped chest and yellow bars on the wings.
Pine siskin


Dark-eyed Junco

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Dark-eyed Junco
Another arrival from further north during the winter is the Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis). Right: A male that is wintering in the south of the state, sharing the feeder with a House finch during a heavy snowfall. While normally a ground feeder as the one on the left is doing, the Junco will hit the feeder when the seeds on the ground are covered.
Junco and finches


Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red Bellied Woodpecker
The Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus) is around all winter but we seldom see it, so when we do it's a visual treat. The name refers to the rosy patch on its breast. It is also called "Zebra-backed".
Red Bellied Woodpecker


Downy Woodpecker

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Hairy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker
Left: The more common woodpecker to see in the winter is the Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) . The male at left has the red patch on the back of the neck. Less seldom seen is the Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus), of which the male also has a red head patch. At right is a composite photo showing the size difference between the female downy on the far right and the larger female Hairy feeding on the left side of the feeder.
Downy and Hairy Woodpecker

Below: When heavy weather comes, birds are very active at the feeders. The Cardinals don't mind the sparrows and the sparrows are not at all intimidated by the larger birds.
Fellow Travelers
Fellow Travelers
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Below are some winter bird conversations recently overheard!
And then He Said Say cheese Quick he's not looking Do I Know You
"And then she said...."
"OK, We'll say cheese"
"Quick! while he's not looking"
"Are we acquainted?"

©2010 Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc. Photos and text by Gary Bebeau. 100510