Connecticut State of the Birds Report

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Milan Bull of Connecticut Audubon speaks during the press conference to introduce the 2014 Connecticut State of Birds report Monday at Trout Brook Valley conservation area in Easton.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Milan Bull of Connecticut Audubon speaks during the press conference to introduce the 2014 Connecticut State of Birds report Monday at Trout Brook Valley conservation area in Easton.

Habitat, its proper maintenance, and its importance to a variety of birds is the topic of the 2014 Connecticut State of the Birds Report released Monday by Connecticut Audubon Society at an event at Trout Brook Valley.

As usual, the report — this year titled “Connecticut’s Diverse Landscape: Managing Our Habitats for Wildlife” — is full of valuable research and information about a topic regarding birds.

Here’s my story at http://www.thehour.com, click here.

Purple Martins banded at Sherwood Island

Photo by Chris Bosak A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Photo by Chris Bosak
A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Sometimes fun news assignments come across our offices at The Hour newspaper. If it has to do with birds it usually ends up being forwarded to my email address by everyone else who receives it. Not that I mind, of course.

Photo by Chris Bosak A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Photo by Chris Bosak
A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Such was the case this week when the Friends of Sherwood Island (a state park in Westport, Conn.) sent a release announcing a Purple Martin banding project. I attended the event, of course, and marveled as staff and volunteers from state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Friends of Sherwood Island took young martins from their nest, fitted them with bands, weighed and measured them, recorded data and returned them to the nests.  As all this was going on, the adult martins fearlessly and undaunted continued to hunt for insects to bring back to the colony.

I even got to return five baby Purple Martins to their gourd. It was the first time I’ve ever held a Purple Martin. Very cool.

For the complete story and photos from The Hour photographer Erik Trautmann, click here.

Good news on the duck front; populations and habitat improve

 

Photo by Chris Bosak American Wigeon in Norwalk.

Photo by Chris Bosak
American Wigeon in Norwalk.

As much as I love all birds, ducks are my favorite types of birds to watch. I’ve said that plenty of times. So when good news from that front crosses my desk, I’m eager to share it.

Here it is, shamelessly stolen from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service press release sent to my at my office:

“Duck populations have increased in overall abundance over last year, and their habitat conditions have improved, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Trends in Duck Breeding Populations 2014 report released today. These conclusions are based on the 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Surve Continue reading

Volunteers for osprey monitoring sought in Connecticut

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River this summer.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River this summer.

The Osprey population in Connecticut, especially along the coast, is booming. That’s a good thing, of course, as Osprey are considered a keystone species, meaning they are at the top of the food chain and rely on the health of an environment at all levels. It speaks well for Long Island Sound.

Connecticut Audubon Society is calling on volunteers to help monitor this burgeoning population. Click below to learn more about the project and how you may be able to help.

Click here for more information.

The app so many birders have been waiting for

BirdGenie logo

BirdGenie logo

The folks at Princeton University Press have done it. I’ve been being asked for years whether an app existed that can identify bird calls and songs. Later this spring, BirdGenie will be launched by Princeton University Press — hopefully in time for the New England warbler season.

I can’t offer a review of the product since it hasn’t been launched yet, but that will come soon enough. For now, see the press release below from Princeton Unive Continue reading

Purple Martins arrive in New England

Contributed photo Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation at Connecticut Audubon, sets up the Purple Martin gourds at the Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, April 14, 2014.

Contributed photo
Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation at Connecticut Audubon, sets up the Purple Martin gourds at the Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, April 14, 2014.

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.

Purple Martin at Cove Island in Stamford.

Purple Martin at Cove Island in Stamford.

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/

Thanks for visiting http://www.birdsofnewengland.com

David Allen Sibley talks about the Ivory-billed Woodpecker

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.

 

Mourning Dove sitting on nest

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

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.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

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 bozclark@earthlink.net

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove sits on a nest at Oyster Shell Park in Norwalk, CT., April 1014.

Why it’s called a Ring-necked Duck (even though ring-billed would make more sense)

Photo by Chris Bosak Ring-necked Duck in Darien, March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Ring-necked Duck in Darien, March 2014.

It took years for me to start calling this duck by it’s proper name: Ring-necked Duck. I would invariably blurt out “Look, Ring-billed Duck.” But, unlike the Ring-billed Gull, this bird is not named for an obvious ring around its bill.

Instead it is named after a hardly-noticeable ring around its neck. Conditions, including the posture of the duck, need to be right to even see the neck ring. The ring around the bill, however, is obvious in most conditions, unless the duck is sleeping with its bill tucked into its back feathers. Even the female, which is mostly brown in color, has a ring around her bill. (She also has a faint ring around her neck.)

So why Ring-necked Duck? Ornithologists in the 1800s named many birds by studying dead specimens. Apparently with the bird so close the chestnut colored neck band is more obvious, so it was named as such. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to the average birder (like me) in the field, but it is what it is. The above photo shows both the ringed neck and ringed bill of the beautiful duck.

Ring-necked Ducks are seen throughout New England, mostly in fresh-water ponds and lakes, from late fall through early spring.

Photo by Chris Bosak A pair of Ring-necked Ducks rest at a pond in Darien, March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pair of Ring-necked Ducks rest at a pond in Darien, March 2014.

An interview with David Allen Sibley

Example of Sibley guide's second edition.

Example of Sibley guide’s second edition.

David Allen Sibley, the renowned birdwatcher and field guide author/artist, was kind enough to grant me and The Hour an interview about his recently released second edition of The Sibley Guide to Birds. I picked him up at the train station, drove to The Hour offices in Norwalk, and did the interview. I was hoping for some time to do some birdwatching, but alas, time was tight and it just didn’t happen. Not really anyway (read the column ((link attached)) for more details.)He sat down with The Hour photographer Erik Trautmann and me and I fired a bunch of random birding questions at him. We started, of course, with the field guides but then, as my interviews normally do, we headed off in all kinds of directions.It was a great time and I’m glad David took the time to do the interview in our office. Click here for the column and accompanying video of a portion of the interview. I will add to this website more audio of the interview in the coming days.

Thanks for visiting http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com