There’s nothing like a September field of goldenrod.
There’s nothing like a September field of goldenrod.
Common yellowthroats are one of most familiar warblers we see in New England. While we are seeing many warblers pass through this time of year on their way south, yellowthroats remain one of the more common sightings. The male (pictured above) is easy to recognize with his black mask, but the female is a little more tricky, particularly in the fall when warblers are notoriously difficult to ID. Here are a few more shots to distinguish the female yellowthroat from other warblers passing through. Click here for a recent For the Birds column on yellowthroats.
It was an eagle. There was no doubt about that. I second-guessed myself only for a second because of where the sighting took place.
It was not on a remote lake in northern New England or on one of the islands in Long Island Sound. It was right along a highway.
We are all used to seeing hawks perched along the highway. In fact, when I drive to Pennsylvania a couple of times a year to visit family, I make it a point to count the number of red-tailed hawks I see perched in trees along Route 86. It’s usually between 10 and 15. Hey, it passes the time on a long drive.
I noticed from far away as I approached the scene that there was a bird perched in a tree overhanging a somewhat busy state highway. Even from a significant distance, I could tell it was not a hawk. The only question was whether it was an eagle or a vulture. It did not have the posture of a vulture, but rather the regal stance of an eagle.Continue reading
I had just discovered a new berry tree at work and thought to myself how great it would be to see the birds raid the tree when the berries ripened.
At the time, the majority of the berries were red with a few purple ones mixed in. It wouldn’t be long now, I figured, before they were all purple and the birds would be feasting on them.
About a week later, I went back to check out the tree and it was practically picked clean. Apparently, the berries ripened quicker than I thought they would, and the birds wasted no time in having their feast.
I missed the flurry of activity that had the tree stripped clean, but I did see a lone gray catbird fly in and out to grab a few of the remaining berries. At least I wasn’t completely shut out of the show.Continue reading
Sometimes the residual birds get unduly forgotten when a bird walk features a highlight species. In other words, the other solid bird sightings get pushed to the back of the memory bank. Then, sometime after the excitement of the highlight species fades, be it hours, days or weeks, the other birds come back to you.
This happened to me the other week when a pair of male indigo buntings highlighted an evening walk. It had been a while since I had seen buntings, and I became singularly focused on them when recounting the walk.
As I looked through the photos of that walk, I was reminded of some of the other birds I had seen. Before I took untold numbers of photos of the bright blue indigo buntings, I had snapped a few photos of a common yellowthroat pair. I had completely forgotten about those birds until I started looking through the photos.Continue reading
The song sounded familiar, but it had been months since I last heard it.
There is an indigo bunting around here somewhere I said to myself and instantly abandoned my plans for a long, strenuous walk. I knew I’d be at that spot for a while.
I couldn’t tell if the song was coming from the left or the right. It sounded like it was coming from both directions. I thought it was just because I’m getting old and my hearing was playing tricks on me.
But sure enough, there were two male indigo singing: one to the left of me and one to the right.
The bunting to the right was in the shade as the evening sun was dipping below the tree line. The bird to the left was illuminated in that magical evening light. I turned my focus to that bird.
Thankfully, the bird was fairly cooperative and even posed for a few photos in a berry tree. It didn’t eat the berries, but rather just used the tree’s branches for a vantage point.
It had been a few years since I was able to get photographs of an indigo bunting. Photographing any bird is enough to get my blood pumping, but a bird like an indigo bunting really gets the heart racing — especially when they are being cooperative.
Male indigo buntings are one of the more striking birds we see in New England, right up there with scarlet tanagers, Baltimore orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks. Indigo buntings, like many songbirds, are sexually dimorphic, meaning the males and females look different. Also, like most birds that are dimorphic, the female is much duller than the male. The difference between the electric blue male and brown female is stark.Continue reading
The upcoming For the Birds column will provide more detail, but until then here are a few more shots of this beauty.
Sorry for the obvious headline, but here are two male indigo buntings: one with the sun (above) and one against the sun (below). No wonder they look a little different every time you see one.
There will be more on this sighting coming in the next couple of days, but here’s a teaser photo from a recent sighting in Connecticut. Can’t help but get excited about an indigo bunting sighting.