For the Birds: More sightings from readers

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Scarlet Tanager perches in a tree in Danbury, Conn., July 2016.

The sightings emailed in from readers have been so interesting that they have warranted being the topic of columns for several weeks in a row now. It’s creating a backlog of column ideas for me, but that’s a good problem to have. Besides, spring is the most active time for birdwatchers, so I shouldn’t be surprised.

A quick rundown of my own highlights as spring migration trails off and the birds get down to the important business of nesting:

I haven’t seen my rose-breasted grosbeaks in a few weeks. I’m hoping they are hunkered down on nests. I have, however, seen my ruby-throated hummingbirds on a daily basis. That likely means there’s a nest nearby, which is good news.

I’ve also heard in the distance the “chick-burr” call of the scarlet tanager. If they were nesting nearby, it would make my summer.

I’ve seen a few house wrens checking out my birdhouses but none have stuck around as far as I can tell. I’ve never had much luck attracting house wrens. Perhaps it’s time to adjust the locations of my birdhouses.

Finally, I got some good looks at a yellow-throated vireo. It is one of the more colorful vireos and it sang from the tops of my oak trees for hours one day last week. Vireos are small migratory songbirds that pass through or nest in New England each spring. They are overshadowed by the excitement caused by warblers, but they are an interesting study unto themselves.

Here’s what else has been happening around the region:

Tom from Keene had a memorable birding moment a few weeks ago when he saw five male scarlet tanagers at the cemetery on Washington Street. He said the bright red-and-black birds remained for much of one day and then all but disappeared the next day.

Wild turkeys are apparently getting less modest as they continue to adjust to the suburbs. Last week, I received two separate photos of wild turkeys copulating in backyards. Both photos were terrific — one coming from Gino from Jaffrey Center and the other from Wayne from Pepperell, Mass.

Dick and Pat from Westmoreland earlier in May had indigo buntings, rose-breasted grosbeaks and hummingbirds. That piles on to the indigo bunting sightings submitted a few weeks ago from other readers. Hopefully, all these buntings will have successful breeding seasons and next spring will bring even more sightings from throughout New England.

Roxanne from Swanzey has also seen buntings, as well as a rose-breasted grosbeak, blue-winged warbler, yellow warbler, eastern phoebe, ruby-throated hummingbird and house wren. She also spotted a magnolia warbler in her birdbath. It’s always a thrill to see any bird using a birdbath. A warbler makes it that much more notable.

I also heard from Carol, who lives in a coastal town in southwestern Connecticut. Her sightings remind us that New England is more than vast inland woods and fields. New England boasts magnificent ocean and Long Island Sound coastlines as well, and they are never more than a few hours’ drive away.

Carol visited Long Beach in Stratford, Conn., and saw nine pairs of piping plovers and several pairs of American oystercatchers. Eight of the plovers were on nests and she also spotted one oystercatcher nest. She has visited the area annually in the spring and noted that the oystercatcher nest this year was built higher on the beach and within the enclosures used to protect plover nests. In previous years, the oystercatcher nest was built lower on the beach and got washed away by high tides.

Carol also noted that she saw ruddy turnstones and sanderlings on the shore.

Photos from several of these sightings, including both copulating turkey incidences, may be found at under the “reader submitted photos” tab. The activity is slowing down as birds become less visible and vocal for the nesting season, but there is still plenty of birding action going on. As always, feel free to email me news of your sightings and photos.

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