I can't get enough of the Varied Thrushes that have been brightening the snowy landscape outside my window during this recent cold snap. When a late-afternoon shaft of light hits one of these birds, the effect is stupendous.
The thrushes appear in our yard just about every winter, drawn here I suppose by all the freeze-dried huckleberries we have to offer. Our many huckleberry bushes are a magnet also for Spotted Towhees and sometimes a Red-breasted Sapsucker.
But the real prize for the thrushes seems to be our Crabapple tree. The tree blooms beautifully in the spring and then produces a bumper crop of fruit for which we don't really have a use.
As a result, hundreds of crabapples hang from the tree every year until about this time, when the thrushes and other birds show up and strip it. And from my standpoint, providing a winter meal for the wild birds is a perfectly good use for those crabapples.
Before I started watching birds, I had the idea our woods were full of mostly boring, brown birds of nondescript plumage.