In the days leading up to and following the (in my opinion much overhyped) recent "Snowmageddon," we noticed an increase in the number of birds at our feeders, and in the amount of bird food that was consumed.
In the photograph above, House Finches (Carpodacus mexicanus), American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis), a Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis), and an American Tree Sparrow (Spizella arborea) enjoy a meal on our platform feeder.
Above, House Finches and an American Goldfinch are joined by a Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor).
Like Tufted Titmice, the White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) shown above doesn't stick around on the feeder for long. It grabs some food and quickly flies off to cache a morsel in the bark of a nearby tree for a later snack.
Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), like the one on the platform above, have been especially plentiful as of late, with our high count being around 15 individuals. But who is that on the suet feeder?
The snow and cold weather seemed to have brought a female Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) to our feeders. Our suet feeders are frequented by Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens), Hairy Woodpeckers (Picoides villosus), and Red-bellied Woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus) in the winter, but we rarely see Northern Flickers eating at our feeders. When we do encounter this species in our yard, it is often on the ground or at the base of a tree feeding on ants (their primary food source) or beetles. The subspecies that we see in the eastern United States is called the Yellow-shafted Flicker (C. auratus auratus); Red-shafted Flickers (C. auratus cafer) reside in the western United States. The common names of these subspecies come from the color under the tail, on the underwings, and on the shafts of the primary feathers. You can easily see the characteristic yellow or red, as well as the characteristic white rump, when the bird is in flight. At one time, Yellow-shafted Flickers and Red-shafted Flickers were considered two distinct species. However, hybrids which look intermediate between the two are common where the ranges overlap, and thus the two have been taxonomically lumped into one species with two subspecies.
For more information on Northern Flickers, including some amazing information on their tongues (that's right, their tongues), be sure to check out this post by Janet Creamer and this post by Jim McCormac.