Close-up of these birds that spend the winter in the Haute-Loire

Winter is here, and if migratory birds have left for warmer regions, wintering birds are the ones who find our own to their taste for the cold season! In fact, unlike the first with a strict diet (eg insectivores), they can still have enough food, especially in the form of seeds, berries or small animals that are still active.
Among our winter visitors here are two who frequent our gardens. The siskin is a beautiful little passerine cousin to the finch, but also to the canary, with which it shares the yellow colour. As the name suggests, it likes elm, this deciduous tree at the edge of water or wetlands, whose fruits – all things considered – look like small open pine cones (1 cm!) .

Its mandibles can exert a pressure of more than 50 kg

He also likes the coniferous forests, from which he comes out in the autumn to wander in the birch and alder groves. It feeds on the seeds of the latter, but also on, for example, thistles, which it is therefore useful to let dry out in the garden.
If you feed the sparrows in winter, you will surely have the chance to see these siskins, as lively as the tit, climbing on their heads to catch their food.
The grosbeak is a fairly large passerine bird, intermediate in size between the sparrow and the blackbird. Its name also indicates the special nature of the bird: its highly developed beak throughout the face is particularly powerful, as it can break the cherry stones, for example: its mandibles can exert a pressure of more than 50 kg!
It is thus easy to recognize, and clearly visible with its orange chest, its red head and its white bar on the wing. It lives in deciduous forests, but can also be seen in gardens and on automatic feeders during severe cold, where it will shell sunflower seeds.
Among our winter visitors here are two others that frequent water bodies and are clearly visible in winter, the cormorant and the heron. The cormorant is a dark brown bird, a kind of large palm with a slightly hooked beak, 1.50 meters wide. It has wintered since 1994 in the Haute-Loire and is present there from October to April, where it is often seen in formation with its congeners in a V-shaped flight, or grouped together in dormitories along rivers or sometimes on a cliff with its wings discarded. Some of its feathers are actually not completely waterproof: by diving they take on water, which weighs it down and allows it to fall to a depth of 10 meters! But he must then dry his wings in the sun after each act of fishing.A cormorant

Like any predator, it consumes daily the most common prey of small to medium sizes: among others “catfish” and carp in gravel pits and “whites” (cyprinids) in rivers.
The uniform white heron is one of the largest herons in Europe with a height of one meter and a wingspan of over 1.70 meters. It has been hibernating since 2004 in the Haute-Loire and can be observed from October to April along rivers and wetlands where it feeds on fish, crustaceans, but also insects and small mammals (mice, shrews, voles…) as this group of seven individuals observed at early December near Retournac. It is only during the breeding season that long feathers appear on the back: the famous heron.a heron

This almost caused its demise due to the high demand of 19th century feather workers. Luckily for her, the season for feathered hats is over! Today, it adorns our landscapes during a period when many people have chosen to flee to survive the winter.


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