To me, the first sign of winter is the “Three Blind Mice” song of the Golden Crowned Sparrow. It always occurs just as the days are getting short and the weather is turning nippy. One morning, I’ll just be waking up and there’s that song. They’re back, and winter is coming soon. It turns out they are singing to get the flock together and organized in their winter home, after the long migration from British Columbia or Alaska. They establish their pecking order, which I learned from someone studying them, is based on the size of the gold crown and the black stripes next to it. Here’s a picture, in case you don’t live on the west coast: Picture. Then they get quiet for the rest of winter. Today, I woke to the sound of “Three Blind Mice” again. They are packing their suitcases and getting ready to fly back to their summer breeding grounds. The weather has turned sunny and warmer, and the days are getting longer. The last sign of winter.
For those who don’t live where they can hear this bird, my husband made a recording of the birds in our hedge: