Backyard Birds – December 2022 Report

Backyard Birds - December 2022 Report

Backyard birders rounded out the year with some unusual (and not-so-unusual) December sightings. Read on for their findings as reported to Hugh Kingery.

Char Gottlieb has enjoyed a female Red-bellied Woodpecker in her Arvada yard daily since mid-November. Only one, but she comes for sunflower seeds every day. Very special for us as we have never had this species in our yard.” Red-bellieds rarely come this far west, although we see them occasionally along Colorado’s eastern border.

Red-bellied Woodpecker clinging to the bark of a tree
Red-bellied Woodpecker | photo by Hugh Kingery

Kevin Corwin had a new species “visiting my little townhouse yard” in Centennial  December 18-19: a Cassin’s Finches.

Similarly, Jared Del Rosso stopped at Chapel Hill Memorial Garden in Centennial on December 20. “A Cassin’s Finch (Female/Immature) was around, among many House Finches, feeding in ash trees and feeders in adjacent yards. The Cassin’s was also occasionally calling. The Cassin’s Finch was a  rewarding encounter. I have only once previously seen this species, way back in 2014 on a birding trip led by Joey Kellner. (I remember how all the more experienced birders on the trip made sure I got to see it.)

He also saw “A White-throated Sparrow, December 9-17, mixed in with juncos, Spotted Towhees, and White-crowned Sparrows. It only provided brief and just-barely-definitive looks through the row of lilacs and other plants that edges the cemetery.

Charlie Chase reported one on December 23 in his west Denver yard.

Cassins Finch standing on ground
Cassin's Finch | photo by Kevin Corwin
White-throated Sparrow on the round among fallen leaves
White-throated Sparrow | photo by Bill Wuerthele

Kevin says that on December 5, his yard “was overrun by robins this morning; the shriveled fruits on the various crabapple trees didn’t stand a chance. I counted only 18 in my little townhouse yard for Project FeederWatch, but when I later took a walk I encountered several different flocks of 25 – 30, totaling between 150 – 300 birds. There were a few Cedar Waxwings mixed in with some of the flocks, including some identifiable as 1st-year birds.”

In our Franktown yard, with the cold and snow December 20-22, we hosted a pile of common birds: 21 juncos, 11 House Finches, 4 Spotted Towhees, 1 each Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers, plus the usual numbers of chickadees, nuthatches, and jays.

Jared “counted up to 7 Spotted Towhees along one edge of the yard. A few weeks ago, 6 were together, ornamenting a bare chokecherry. This isn’t entirely unusual. eBird reminds me that the winter of 2017-18 brought a similar number through my yard. And I suspect it’s just an outcome of me more consistently tossing seed around my yard, attracting the neighborhood’s many towhees. (I use the waste-free type so I don’t end up with patches of millet and safflower.)”

Your contributions write this column. Thanks to all who send in these intriguing reports. Send a note or post card to P.O. Box 584, Franktown 80116, or Email Hugh Kingery at