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The Darkroom

Winter is the best season for birding

The Baltimore Sun

While the days may be cold and gray and the last thing most of us want to do is spend any length of time outdoors, winter is one of the best seasons for birding. Spring migration may get all of the attention (and crowds) but there are many advantages to braving the cold.

One obvious seasonal advantage is that birds are much easier to see when trees have no foliage. Another is that when the temperatures are cold enough to freeze lakes and ponds, many birds, especially waterfowl, will concentrate around water that is still open.

Winter is also when irruptive birds are seen. When food is scarce farther north some species are forced beyond their normal range. This year there have been several Snowy owl sightings in the area. You can sign up to receive alerts of rare birds in your area at

Of course, if standing in the cold for hours is not your thing, winter birds can still be enjoyed from the comfort of your home with feeders. Black oil sunflower seed will attract a lot of resident birds such as chickadees, cardinals and titmice. A suet feeder will bring in woodpeckers and nuthatches.

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