The Invincible Joy of Winter Birds

Deborah Barchi
4 min readFeb 20, 2020
Photo by Erin Wilson on Unsplash

“In the midst of winter I found within my self an invincible summer” Albert Camus

I am not a person who loves winter. The cold, the darkness, the lack of flowers and green plants all get me down. Although I try to continue walking outdoors on most winter days, the free swinging feeling of walking outside is somewhat suppressed under multiple layers of coat, sweaters, hat, scarf and gloves. So in the winter, more than ever, I turn to birds with appreciation and pleasure.

The hearty winter birds are a true inspiration to people like me who tend to shudder at the first cold snap or snowflake. Small, feathered miracles, they withstand the blasts of winter, the wind and freezing rain, and still keep foraging, fighting, and singing.

Of course, most bird “fights” are merely warnings: the lifted head tuft or the fanned tail feathers remind other birds to make some room. But with so little food available in winter, it behooves every bird no matter their size to take a stand even on a tiny patch of ground or the narrowest branch.

Winter birds and the joy they bring are all around us, but in order to coax them nearer, we need to commit to feeding them. In fact, feeding birds, especially in winter, is a big business, with lots of money spent on bird feeders of every type (including those designed to discourage voracious squirrels) and a wide variety of bird seeds and suets to attract the widest variety of birds.

For years I have arisen fairly early in the morning with the facetious fantasy that I have to “feed the livestock”. No farm girl, (and with a salute to all real farmers), I am merely having fun first thing in the morning filling the cats’ bowls with kibble, putting fresh seed in the bird feeder, and more suet in the suet feeders.

I am rewarded for all these exhausting efforts (that must take all of ten minutes) by two purring cats and by dozens of winter birds who get needed extra sustenance, especially after a storm or hard freeze.

Who are some avian visitors whom you could expect to see at your feeders in winter? Here are some of the more common (and always delightful) ones:

  • Chickadees, the kindergartners of the bird world who have…
Deborah Barchi

Deborah Barchi has recently retired from her career as a librarian and now has time to read, explore nature, and write poetry and essays.