Winter Songbirds of Lake Holiday


Written by Gabriel Ricketts

On December 11, 2019
Dark-Eyed Junco

The Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hiemalis) is an elegant bird with a flashy slate-gray and white tail and a pink bill. Juncos are sparrows and are often seen feeding on the ground in large flocks. They can also be seen at bird feeders if you put out sunflower seed and millet. Dark-eyed Juncos can be found in semi-open woods and woodlands and are often seen near pine trees. They stand out against a snowy forest floor or yard and can provide you some entertainment on cold gray days.

White-Throated Sparrow

White-Throated Sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) are large and mostly brown with a flashy black and white striped crown and bright yellow spots in front of the eyes. They are often seen in brushy woods and forests and can be brought to your yard if you spread some millet and sunflower seed on the ground. White-Throated Sparrows add a splash of color to a gray winter yard or forest, and throughout the winter you may hear their high-pitched whistling song, often described as someone singing “Old Sam Peabody, Peabody, Peabody.”

Yellow-Rumped Warbler

The Yellow-Rumped Warbler (Setoph­aga coronata) is a small brown, white, and yellow warbler that, unlike its tropical cousins, spends the winter as far north as Canada. This bird can be found in forests and woodland edges, especially if there are pine trees nearby. Yellow-Rumped Warblers are normally flitting around in the tree-tops and will occasionally be attracted to your yard with suet, especially on snowy days. Being one of the only warblers that winters north of Virginia, the Yellow-Rumped Warbler is a perfect example that not all birds fly south for the winter.

A gorgeous example that “not all sparrows are brown” is the Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca). These birds are a combination of mostly reddish brown, white, and gray and really look pretty on a snowy winter day. Fox Sparrows are generally found in brushy woods and are another bird that is found near pine trees. Fox Sparrows can be attracted to your backyard if you spread sunflower seed on the ground. They are a fun bird to watch as they have many interesting feeding habits, and they often kick their legs back and forth to toss up leaves.

Winter Wrens (Troglodytes hiemalis) are tiny (the size of a hummingbird) brown and white speckled wrens that frequent sparsely brushy forests, oftentimes near water. Winter Wrens have a funny habit of cocking their tails high up and bobbing themselves up and down. The song of the Winter Wren is one of the most beautiful bird songs in North America and is described by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology as “an incredibly beautiful long series of musical whistles and trills.” Nothing gets better than sitting outside on a cold winter day listening to the song of the Winter Wren.

These are only a few (albeit my favorite) of the many bird species that can be seen in Lake Holiday in the winter. If you are interested in bird watching, then please consider joining the Lake Holiday Birding Club for an outing or meeting. If you have any questions about birds or bird identification, you may contact me – Gabriel Ricketts – by email at

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