On a chilly winter day, with several inches of snow still blanketing the woodland hills, those who spend winter on the wing are once again in search of food.
This eastern bluebird has located a well-stocked bird feeder, a veritable oasis in the sudden desert of cold and ice which was so recently a leafy forest floor, and has staked its claim to a perch nearby.
Survival is the name of the game, and as evidenced by their continued existence after the two harsh weeks of winter just past, these individuals have proven their mettle as foragers and hunters and food finders in general.
Like the bluebird, this hermit thrush has cast its lot with the bird feeder set, and perches in the cold gray light just a few feet from the observation platform near the feeding station. While these drab gray woods may soon resound with the thrush's glorious song of spring, today his silence sounds the call of cold and hungry.
Like so many of the small songbirds congregating at the feeder today, Carolina chickadee's metabolism demands a surprisingly large food intake for its tiny size; this individual has found a perch overlooking a healthy pile of sunflower seeds and is far more interested in monitoring the activity there than in smiling for the camera...
Not far away, northern cardinal offers a bold and striking profile from its perch in a young lichen-splotched hickory adjacent to the oasis, while a white-throated sparrow shares the frame until a perch opens up on the feeder.
With Carolina chickadee joining the ranks on the front lines at the foot of the feeder pole,
tufted titmouse arrives to occupy its vacant perch, but only for a moment's rest;
then, it too will return to the fray, taking full advantage of the oasis today in advance of an uncertain tomorrow.
Such is the life of those who spend winter on the wing...
A few hours later and a few miles away, in the warmth of an all too brief appearance by the sun, American robin dozes at the edge of a snow-covered meadow,
while one of its brethren takes pause from its worm-digging to savor the sun's life-giving warmth as well.
Winter on the wing; it's a bird's life...