This morning while sitting at my computer reading the NYT I heard the familiar Konkaree outside, the first of the year for me: Three pairs of Red-winged Blackbirds were busy working and picking over the grassy field next to our house.
The crab apple tree with the feeder was a-flutter with Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and a couple of Gold Finches still in winter dress. A White-breasted Nuthatch extracted a seed and then flew off to a nearby twig.
On a different, and sad note, a bright red male Cardinal struck our picture window in front and dropped down dead. In the fall I had drawn patterns on the outside with a soap bar, along with affixing two "Warning Web" decals from Droll Yankees to the outside glass. It looked goofy but it must have worked since we hadn't had any strikes all winter. But the window had started to look so grimy and the decals had acquired brown stains along the edges, that I finally decided to clean it ---to my great regret. I did some research and came up with a different solution: I bought two Feather Guards from Birders' Digest. Those are 5' strings with colored feathers attached to them which are hung from the window with suction cups. Supposedly this warns the birds off by motion, color and loose feathers, to which birds have natural, probably predator induced aversion.
I'll report back on the success.