Here’s one of my favorite Mallard shots. The chick with its head sticking out was one of several tucked under the mother’s wing during a light rain. Even common subjects such as Mallards have their photographic moments. Happy Easter weekend from http://www.birdsofnewengland.com
While watching a small flock of Ruddy Ducks at Cove Island Park in Stamford, CT, a Horned Grebe made an appearance. The grebe was in a transitional plumage and will look quite different a few weeks from now.
Most of our “winter ducks” have flown north already, but some still linger. The Ruddy Ducks were a good sighting and there are still several Red-breasted Mergansers around. Soon, It will be mallards and black ducks for southern New England.
The Ruddy Duck photos are below:
It’s Purple Martin season in New England! Last week I ran into David Winston and Patrick Duggan putting up the Purple Martin gourds at Cove Island Park in Stamford. On Monday, after finishing my volunteer Piping Plover monitoring duties at the Coastal Center at Milford Point (CT), I ran into Milan Bull of Connecticut Audubon putting up the gourds there.
The Purple Martins had already arrived and many perched on the poles as Milan worked underneath to get the gourds ready. I even got my hands dirty and helped him out a bit (of course, he was nearly done by the time I got there.)
Purple Martins will return to the same site year after year, so if you were successful in getting Purple Martins last year, get your gourds or houses up soon. If you were not successful last year, or are trying for the first time this year, you can get the houses up now, or wait a few weeks. Younger birds seeking to start a new colony will arrive throughout the next several weeks, or even months. Just keep an eye on the gourds or houses for House Sparrows. Remove the nests if House Sparrows take up residence.
I’m far from an expert in attracting Purple Martins, so for more detailed information about Purple Martins, I’ll refer you to this site: http://www.purplemartin.org/
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In 2005, a bird sighting in Arkansas caused major waves in the birding world. It pitted experts against experts and beginners against beginners. The potential sighting was of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, a large woodpecker long believed to be extinct. The sighting came along with a rough video, but not a clear enough one to answer any questions definitively. In fact, the video only separated the sides even more.
One of the skeptical experts was David Allen Sibley, who visited The Hour offices last month and I couldn’t resist asking his thoughts on the subject. The alleged sighting came in 2005, but the debate still rages on. Here are Sibley’s thoughts on the matter.
I’ve always liked Killdeer. They depend on large, flat open spaces to lay their eggs. As that habitat disappears, Killdeer have proven to be very resourceful. I’ve seen Killdeer nests (really just a small depression in the ground) in places such as parking lots, ball fields and cemeteries. These guys I photographed this week at a cemetery in Darien. I have plenty of Killdeer shots already, but I couldn’t resist.
To add in one fact about Killdeer to make this post at least a little informative — they are one of the species that will use the “broken wing” tactic to keep predators away from their eggs and young. As a predator (or unwitting human) approaches the nest, the parent will walk away from the eggs to divert the attention. To keep the interest of the predator the adult Killdeer will pretend it has a broken wing and limp along the ground. When the predator is sufficiently away from the nest, the adult will fly away, leaving the predator dumbfounded and hungry.
One more quick fact: Killdeer are shorebirds, and are indeed found along the shore at times, but are usually found far from the shore.
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April, for me anyway, is a bittersweet month for birdwatching. I love watching ducks, so the period from when the “winter ducks” arrive in fall to the time they depart in the spring is perhaps my favorite time of year for birdwatching. Well, that time in spring is approaching. The ducks _ other than mallards and a few others _ will soon depart southern New England for their breeding grounds up north.
The flip side of that, of course, is that the songbirds, shorebirds, birds of prey and other spring migrants will be here soon (if they haven’t arrived already.)
I’ve been seeing fewer and fewer ducks at my normal haunting grounds over the last week or so. Remember my post last week when a Redhead shared a pond with Hooded Mergansers, Ring-necked Ducks and Wood Ducks? Well, that pond is now vacant. No winter ducks or any other ducks for that matter. I’m sure the mallards and hopefully some Wood Ducks will return. But the other ducks will likely not be seen there for another seven or eight months.
Long Island Sound and its harbors are slowing down, too, but not shutting down. I saw a few Long-tailed Ducks, Bufflehead, Red-breasted Mergansers and Greater Scaup on a recent visit to Norwalk Harbor _ but not in the numbers that I saw them just a few weeks ago. In a few more weeks, only a few straglers will be left _ until next fall, that is.
I came across the Mourning Dove during a quick walk through Oystershell Park in Norwalk, Conn., this morning. Yes, despite the late start to spring weather, the birds are right on time with their nesting.
Check out the camouflage nature of this nest. The tangled, twisted sticks and vines are colored similarly to the dove itself. Amazing that birds can do these things. I did not approach too closely and allowed the bird to remain comfortable on its nest.
Have a bird nesting on your property? Grab a photo and send it along. I’ll use it on my “reader submitted photo” page. Remember to give the birds space and not to be intrusive — they have an important job to do. Send photos to email@example.com