Storm Jonas showed us white, but reds, orange and blues as well

Bil Bowden

The weekend storm that dumped a record 30 inches of snow on York County is history, but its punch had most businesses closed for days, roads blocked. We've already heard a revival of horror stories that we remember best in our imagination-- "When I was a kid, the drifts were up the second floor..."  And so on.

2 male, female on pyracanthus

There was plenty of warning, meteorologists begging for us to get our act together and be prepared. And apparently for the most part, we were.  On Saturday most roads were empty of traffic, emergency personnel had light shifts. Aside from the constant whining of folks upset about lack of snow plow activity (the same people probably who whine about high taxes), Yorkers got through it. Yeah, we'll be digging out for a while.

Saturday was a day to rest, looking out at the storm from the cozy living room while sprawled out in front of the TV.  Some of us watched the wildlife making the best of a bad situation. Birds were everywhere, scarfing up any seed, any morsel, they could swallow. What they usually dined on was now buried in more than two feet of snow.

Some people wandered outdoors despite Storm Jonas' beautiful fury.  Strolling down the center lines on Roosevelt Avenue without a car in sight, listening to the quite silence of snow falling.  Then, a bird chirped, another talked back, and it apparently began a conversation. Soon, a flock of unrelated, various colored feathered creatures swept across the landscape. Apparently, the word got out that someone had filled a feeder.

The crimson cardinals, tuxedoed chickadees and vocal titmice tried to hold off the bullying blue jays and mourning doves. After a while, it didn't matter. The jays dined with nuthatches, wrens, sparrows and juncos. And downy and red-bellied woodpeckers. Even robins joined the party.

blue jays

Saturday was a good day to enjoy the outdoors-- from the indoors.  And birders who listened to all the dismal forecasts were ready for it.

Black oil sunflower seeds, check.

Suet blocks and from the butcher, check.

Safflower seeds, check.

Cracked corn, check.

Peanuts, check.

Thistle seed, check.

Bill Thompson, III, and editor at Bird Watcher's Digest, suggests customizing your birds treats to fit your locale. Aside from the usual foods, try your own creations to fit your neighborhood (suburbia, city, rural, woods) and your dining partners.

"Melt suet in your microwave, and pour it into an ice-cube tray to harden. Before it solidifies, add peanut bits, raisins, apple bits, or other bird foods," he writes. "Set out grapes, slices of citrus fruits, apple or banana slices, and even melon rinds, and watch your birds chow down. If you want to feed raisins, chop them up and soak them in warm water first to soften them up a bit."

There are dozens of York-area stores that offer bird seed and feed--to find one, click here. Talk with other bird watchers and find where they shop. Finding cheap seed is good, but finding cheap seed and someone who understands wild birds and their habits is even better. It's better to pay a few cents more and get good advice than buy bargain basement supplies from someone who wouldn't know a starling from a titmouse. Add to that list of York area stores-- Agway at Cape Horn and West York.

Enjoy the winter, it's even better when a female cardinal visits and her brilliant red boyfriend tags along.

cardinal trio vertical