Winter birds add a sparkle to Georgia winters


Except for a few lingerers, Georgia’s neo-tropical songbirds — including tanagers, thrushes, buntings, swallows and most species of warblers and vireos — are now ensconced in, or well on their way to, winter homes in Central and South America.

These long-distance migrants instinctively make the grueling and dangerous journeys southward each year as the days grow shorter and the seasons chill. Escaping the bitter cold of northern winters and finding sufficient food probably are the main reasons for their long treks.

Another group of migratory birds, however, forgo the effort and danger of making a long-distance trip and fly only as far as Georgia and other southern states for the winter.

They are our “winter birds,“ or songbirds that nest up north during spring and summer and spend the winter in southern states. They include the tiny kinglets; palm, yellow-rumped and orange-crowned warblers; yellow-bellied sapsucker; several sparrow species; hermit thrush, cedar waxwing and others.

They’re flocking into Georgia now and will stay all winter until they return to northern breeding grounds in spring. Most of them will be able to find sufficient food — berries, seeds, small insects — here to survive the cold season.

Their presence adds a sparkle to our winters. The cedar waxwing, for instance, is called North America‘s most “elegant bird“ because of its striking brown and yellow plumage and bright red wing tips that look as if they were dipped in red wax.

But the songbirds we can count on most for brightening up a dreary day in fall and winter will be Georgia’s year-round birds — cardinals, bluebirds, blue jays and others whose vivid colors bring joy throughout the year.

IN THE SKY: From David Dundee, Tellus Science Museum astronomer: The North Taurid meteor shower reaches a peak of about 15 meteors per hour this weekend — in the east from about midnight until dawn.

The moon is in last quarter. Mercury is low in the west at dusk. Venus, Mars and Jupiter are low in the east just before dawn. Venus and Jupiter will appear close together just before dawn Monday and will appear near the moon before dawn Friday. Mars will appear near the moon just before dawn Wednesday. Saturn sets in the west shortly after dark.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Living

‘American Idol’ Atlanta auditions at Infinite Energy draw first and second-round hopefuls
‘American Idol’ Atlanta auditions at Infinite Energy draw first and second-round hopefuls

“American Idol” Thursday held its final early-round auditions at Infinite Energy Arena before the three celebrity judges start vetting the talent. Patrick Lynn, the supervising producer who has overseen “Idol” auditions since the show’s launch in 2002, said in an interview that the audition date was added on the schedule...
CDC approves nasal-spray vaccine for flu season
CDC approves nasal-spray vaccine for flu season

After advising the public to avoid the nasal-spray version of the flu vaccine for the past two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now giving it the green light. A favorite of the needle-averse, the spray did not appear to work as well against H1N1, a strain of the flu, in the past few seasons, the CDC said. But it’s expected...
HPV-related cancer rates are rising. Vaccine rates are rising, too

Cancers linked to the human papillomavirus have increased significantly over the last 15 years in the United States, with throat cancer now the most common HPV-related malignancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 43,000 people developed HPV-associated cancer in 2015, compared with about 30,000 in 1999, the CDC...
Lab-approved ways to disaster-proof your home
Lab-approved ways to disaster-proof your home

Whether you’re an owner or a renter, stay one step ahead of fires, leaks, floods and worse with our expert advice to avoid costly repairs and keep your family safe. Four ways to fireproof the fam In a recent survey, you told us that unexpected flames are your No. 1 home concern. Follow this checklist to ease your fire fears: 1. Assess your equipment...
Huge clinical trial collapses, research on alcohol remains befuddling

Research on alcohol consumption is in a pickle. There’s no question that pounding one drink after another is bad for your health. Things get murkier when it comes to “moderate” drinking. What does that mean? What’s the limit? Can a health-conscious person serenely order a second round? The alcohol industry has long embraced...
More Stories