About Chris Bosak

Bird columnist and nature photographer based in New England.

A few more yellowthroat photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A common yellowthroat perches on a branch in New England, July 2021.

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.

Photo by Chris Bosak A common yellowthroat perches on a branch in New England, July 2021.
Photo by Chris Bosak A common yellowthroat perches on a branch in New England, July 2021.
Photo by Chris Bosak A common yellowthroat perches on a branch in New England, July 2021.

For the Birds: An eagle on the edge

Photo by Chris Bosak A young bald eagle perches on a dead tree near Danbury Fair mall in Danbury, CT, March 2019.

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

For the Birds: Loving those berries

Photo by Chris Bosak A song sparrow eats berries at Dolce Center in Norwalk, Conn.
Photo by Chris Bosak A song sparrow eats berries at Dolce Center in Norwalk, Conn.

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

For the Birds: The ‘forgotten’ birds

Photo by Chris Bosak A common yellowthroat perches on a branch in New England, July 2021.

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

For the Birds: Indigo bunting brightens a summer evening

Photo by Chris Bosak An indigo bunting perches in a tree in New England, July 2021.

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

A few more bunting shots

Photo by Chris Bosak An indigo bunting perches in a tree in New England, July 2021.

The upcoming For the Birds column will provide more detail, but until then here are a few more shots of this beauty.

Photo by Chris Bosak An indigo bunting perches in a tree in New England, July 2021.
Photo by Chris Bosak An indigo bunting perches in a tree in New England, July 2021.

For the Birds: Sights of summer

Everyone loves summer. Beaches, barbecues, beer festivals.

Birds? Not so much. At least not when compared to spring and fall migration periods, or the busy feeder activity ahead of a New England snowstorm.

Summer is a fun time to watch young birds being raised if you are lucky enough to witness that spectacle. Along with that, however, comes the fact that many birds are trying to stay hidden as much as possible until the young are ready to venture into the world.

The waterfront — with its waders and shorebirds — is usually the best place to be during the summer if you want to see birds. That was true the other day when Katie and I took a walk and heard yellowlegs in the distance and spotted a great blue heron on the top of a pine tree. The dusk sun gave the heron an orange glow.

But this summer is also hopping away from the water. Catbirds, blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves, nuthatches and Carolina wrens are constant companions in my yard. Goldfinches are coming around in force now as well.

Speaking of backyard birds, Stephen from Keene offered a tip in response to last week’s column about cleaning bird feeders. He cleans his feeders regularly using vinegar instead of bleach as he feels it’s safer for the birds. It’s a good and timely tip as feeders should be cleaned frequently in the summer.

In the woods, I’ve heard more veeries than I can ever remember hearing. The veery is a type of thrush with a strange up and down flute-like song that reminds me of the old Space Invaders video game. I’m glad they aren’t invaders from another dimension because I’ve heard so many of them this summer. Every walk seems to be accompanied by the strange song.

One day last week, I pulled into a parking lot and scanned the scene. A black-crowned night heron flew across the far side of a pond and settled into a tree. Grackles and red-winged blackbirds provided action in the foreground. A Canada goose caught my eye in another area of the water. Then I noticed a male wood duck sitting on the grass just beyond the goose. Wood ducks are notoriously wary, but this guy seemed fairly comfortable in close proximity to the parking lot.

Most wood duck sightings are from great distances or of the back end of one flying away with the duck’s “oo-week, oo-week” call tauntingly fading away. I was grateful for the close and long view of this beautiful duck, which was still (or already) in its gaudy breeding plumage.

It also seems to be a good year for eastern kingbirds. I’ve gone entire summers when I’ve seen one or two of the handsome, fierce birds. This summer, it seems, I’ve seen dozens of them in different locations. I think of kingbirds as a rural bird, but several of the sightings have been in very suburban — even bordering urban — locations. I’ll take the sightings where I can get them.

Here’s hoping summer keeps it up. If nothing else, August is a great time to wander into New England’s fields and meadows. The bobolinks are much quieter, but the butterflies, dragonflies and other insects are fun to observe and photograph.

What are you seeing out there this summer? Drop me a line and let me know

A tale of two buntings

Photo by Chris Bosak An indigo bunting perches in a tree in New England, July 2021.

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.

Photo by Chris Bosak An indigo bunting sings from a tree in New England, July 2021.