Love this White-breasted Nuthatch photo

Photo by Chris Bosak White-breasted Nuthatch at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
White-breasted Nuthatch at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

Sometimes when photographing birds (or anything for that matter) you never really know what you’ll get. You should always be mindful of the background, but sometimes it’s tough to determine exactly how the photo will look until you take it. Honestly I got kind of lucky with this shot with the jet black background, which really makes the White-breasted Nuthatch standout. I’m not even sure what in the background was so black. Oh well, I’ll take it.

This is the third in a series of photographs celebrating our common backyard feeder birds.

Gray Jay: Friendly bird of the northern woods

Photo by Chris Bosak A Gray Jay perches on a branch near a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Gray Jay perches on a branch near a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Gray Jays are quickly becoming one of my favorite birds. Their range does not stretch into southern New England, but on my last several trips to northern New England, I’ve seen these handsome and friendly birds. I have been visiting the northern reaches of New Hampshire for more than 20 years now and I started seeing Gray Jays only in the last few years. They appear out of nowhere and offer close views. They seem to be as curious about you as you are about them. From what I’ve seen, they hang out in small flocks (3, 4 or 5 birds.) Gray Jays are one of those boreal species that makes the Great North Woods so special. I took the above photo while canoeing on a small pond in northern New Hampshire. This one flew right up to the pond’s edge to check me out.

 

5 New England ‘poster birds’ for climate change

Photo by Chris Bosak Bobolink

Photo by Chris Bosak
Bobolink

In response to the recently released State of the Birds 2014 report, Patrick Comins, the director of bird conservation with Audubon Connecticut, spoke about the 5 “poster birds” that will be most affected by climate change and the accompanying shifts in bird population. He was speaking specifically about Connecticut, but certainly all of New England will see this impact.

Comins spoke during a telephone conference to journalists on Wednesday.

Here are the birds he picked:

Saltmarsh Sparrow: Currently breeds in Connecticut, but has difficulty with rising sea levels and high tides. Rising tides will only become worse over the next several decades.

Bobolink: This meadow nester will likely not nest or be seen often in Connecticut over the next several decades.

Dunlin: This handsome shorebird currently nests and may be seen throughout winter along the New England coast. It’s nesting ability in Connecticut, as Comins put it, will “become zero.” It will move its range north and perhaps New England will get some winter views of this bird.

Blue-winged Warbler: This handsome bright yellow warbler will “move up and out.”

Veery: Comins almost picked the Wood Thrush for his final bird, but chose the Veery. It will become scarce in New England.

The phrase “over the next several decades” may give some people cause to relax and think “I’ll never notice it” or “maybe things will change.” But the “next several decades” will be here before we know it. There have been staggering declines in bird populations over the last 40 years. We’re talking some species dropping in number by 50, 60 even 80 percent. That’s just the last 40 years. That’s basically yesterday evolutionarily speaking. Jeez, I can remember 40 years ago. It bothers me to think this decline all happened in my lifetime.

Hopefully the State of the Birds report will get the attention it deserves and affect positive change for birds and all wildlife.

The full report may be found here.

Love those bluebirds (plenty of photos)

Photo by Chris Bosak Eastern Bluebird at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Eastern Bluebird at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust.

Eastern Bluebirds are nesting again at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust. Here are some photos I took during a quick visit on Tuesday morning. (More photos below — click on “continue reading.”)

Eastern Bluebirds have made a strong comeback following a decline due to several factors, including competition for nesting sites with introduced species such as House Sparrows and European Starlings. The comeback has been bolstered in large part to humans offering nesting sites to bluebirds, a.k.a bluebird houses. The houses are built to specific dimensions, including the entry/exit hole sized to keep out sparrows and starlings. Bluebirds still face competition for those homes from Tree Sparrows, but the competition is not as fierce.

Continue reading

Sibley discusses ‘Birdwatching in New England’

Well-known birdwatcher David Allen Sibley visited The Hour newspaper’s office in March 2014 shortly after the launch of the second edition of his Sibley Guide to the Birds. He sat down with Chris Bosak of The Hour and http://www.birdsofnewengland.com to answer a variety of questions of about birds. Here he discusses birdwatching in New England, where he grew up and currently lives.

Today’s warbler photo

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Yellowthroat perches on a branch at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 11, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Yellowthroat perches on a branch at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods on Sunday, May 11, 2014.

Here’s another warbler photo taken this weekend at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien.

Last week I had a post with several warbler species included. The Common Yellowthroat was not included in that post, but I found a fairly cooperative one this weekend. Yellowthroats can be tricky to photograph because they are usually hidden among thick brush, often near wetlands.

On Saturday, I led a bird walk with a great group of people and we saw 10 warbler species, in addition to several other types of birds, such as vireos, egrets and thrushes. The warbler season in New England is still in full swing. Let me know what you’re seeing out there, send photos and sightings to bozclark@earthlink.net

The brighter side of starlings

Photo by Chris Bosak European Starling visits feeding station in May, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
European Starling visits feeding station in May, 2014.

Yes, European Starlings are overpopulated, outcompete native species for nesting sites, take over birdfeeding stations, destroy crops and really don’t belong in the United States in the first place, but … they sure can be a handsome bird in the breeding season, especially if the light hits them just right.

Starlings look markedly different from one season to the next. Their breeding plumage, seen above, features an array of dots, lines and colors, such as green, purple, blue and, of course, black.

I don’t often have good things to say about European Starlings, but this visitor to my feeder this morning at least temporarily softened my stance.

The story about how starlings ended up in the United States in the first place is very interesting. Here it is, from Wild Birds Unlimited:

“The European Starling was introduced into North America when the “American Acclimatization Society” for European settlers released some 80-100 birds in Central Park (New York City) in 1890-91. The head of this particular organization, Eugene Scheiffelin, desired to introduce all birds ever mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.”

Read more by clicking here.