Dec 24 2012
“Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is a new bird. He sings a love song as we go along, walking in a winter wonderland.” — Winter Wonderland
Even though Winter Wonderland doesn’t mention Christmas, we sing it at this time of year with thoughts of snow and love.
The lyrics were inspired by snowfall in Honesdale, PA. I like to think they have a special meaning for Pennsylvania birders.
Eastern bluebirds leave northern and western Pennsylvania during cold snowy winters so it’s accurate for a snowy song to say, “Gone away is the bluebird.” (Bluebirds remain further north during mild winters. Eight days ago it was 58 degrees during the Buffalo Creek Watershed IBA 80 Christmas Bird Count; I counted 35 bluebirds!)
And who is the new bird? My choice would be the northern cardinal.
In 1800 northern cardinals were southern birds but they expanded their range northward as people changed the landscape and improved food availability. Cardinals reached northern Ohio in the mid 1800s and were common in Pennsylvania and New Jersey by 1900.
So when the lyrics to Winter Wonderland were written in northeastern Pennsylvania in 1934, the northern cardinal was already here to stay.
(photo by Steve Gosser)