About Chris Bosak

Bird columnist and nature photographer based in New England.

Winter baths and drinks for birds

Photo by Chris Bosak A northern mockingbird drinks from a birdbath in New England, January 2021.

We all know it’s important to offer water as well as food for our feathered friends. It can be discouraging, however, to watch a birdbath day after day and not see any birds using it. They typically aren’t as busy as birdfeeders with a constant stream of birds using it. Factor in the sub-zero temperatures Continue reading

For the Birds: Cedar waxwings’ timely appearance

Photo by Chris Bosak A cedar waxwing looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.

With the tendinitis in my foot acting up again, I wasn’t sure how long of a walk I would be able to bear. I had to give it a shot, however, as a few inches of light, fluffy snow had fallen overnight and made the landscape irresistible for anyone with a camera.

As luck would have it, I didn’t have to go very far to get some nice bird photos. I started down a path bordered by thick brush on both sides when I saw a swarm of birds land in a nearby leafless tree. My initial thought was that they were starlings as this flock rivaled in number the large groups of starlings you often see. Something didn’t look quite right, however. They weren’t acting like starlings and they weren’t the right shape.

How cool would it be if they were cedar waxwings? I asked myself. About 10 seconds later Continue reading

For the Birds: NH Christmas Bird Counts record many firsts

Photo by Chris Bosak A boreal chickadee in Pittsburg, NH, summer 2010.

It was a year of firsts and high numbers for many Christmas Bird Counts across the Granite State.

Significant firsts included boreal chickadees on the Peterborough-Hancock Count, a red-headed woodpecker and long-tailed duck in Keene, and a gray catbird in Laconia. Not to mention the sage thrasher found in Hinsdale during the Brattleboro count.

Keene, part of the original Christmas Bird Count in 1900, boasted a record 62 species of birds found. That topped the previous record of 61, which had been recorded four times. A patch of open water on Spofford Lake helped that total as six waterfowl (including the long-tailed duck) and a common loon were spotted there. The long-tailed duck, formerly called oldsquaw, is more often associated with salt or brackish water.

The Christmas Bird Count is the nation’s longest-running community science bird project. It was originally proposed by Frank Chapman, who encouraged people to count birds instead of kill them during the traditional Side Hunt. In 1900, the first CBC took place and included 27 birdwatchers in 25 different areas. There are now hundreds of areas covered throughout North America and thousands of volunteers doing the counting. There are more than 20 Continue reading

Last week’s other snowy visitor

Photo by Chris Bosak A hermit thrush looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.

I posted several photos of the cedar waxwings I saw last week following an overnight snowfall. Here are a few shots of another bird I saw that day among the snowy brush. Hermit thrushes are somewhat of a rare sighting during the winter in New England so I figured I’d give them their own post.

Photo by Chris Bosak A hermit thrush looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.
Photo by Chris Bosak A hermit thrush looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.

For the Birds: 2020’s Top 10 birding highlights

Photo by Chris Bosak A pileated woodpecker works over a tree in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

It may have been a disastrous year in most regards, but one bright spot is the connection with nature many people made while dealing with the pandemic and associated quarantines, isolation and soul-searching.

Bird-feeding stores reported increased sales as people stuck at home turned to the hobby as a much-needed escape. Nature preserves closed their visitor centers, but most of the trails remained open and people flocked to them to ward off cabin fever.

I worked from home for most of the year and, while I missed seeing my co-workers, I did enjoy watching my backyard bird-feeding station daily as the seasons changed. I never realized how much you miss when you go about your regular routine.

With that in mind, here are my top 10 bird/nature watching highlights of 2020. Feel free to send me an email with some of your highlights.

10. Warblers in the snow

A rare overnight snowfall in early May dropped a coating of snow that lasted until about noon. It provided a short window to see warblers and other migratory songbirds in snow. I managed a few photos of an ovenbird and blue-winged warbler.

9. Love birds

I watched several birds at my Continue reading

Cedar waxwing’s namesake wingtips

Photo by Chris Bosak A cedar waxwing looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.

Cedar waxwings are a favorite bird of many people as they are one of the more interesting-looking birds we have in New England. Many people may wonder where it gets its unique name. As the photo shows, the wingtips look as if they are dipped in red wax, hence the name.

A few more cedar waxwing shots

Photo by Chris Bosak A cedar waxwing looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.

Here are a few more shots of the cedar waxwings I found during an early morning walk yesterday.

Photo by Chris Bosak A cedar waxwing looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.
Photo by Chris Bosak A cedar waxwing looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.

Snowy and lucky morning

My first bird walk of the new year proved to be a good one. A fresh but thin blanket of snow covered southern New England on Monday morning making for a quintessential winter scene. I got up with the sun and headed to the nearest park. As I walked along a trail, a large flock of small birds settled into the tall, leafless trees around me. Before I could lift my binoculars to see what they were, they descended upon the berry-covered brush on either side of the trail. Cedar waxwings, lots of them — at least 100. Usually when something like this happens, I don’t have my camera with me for whatever reason. I was prepared this time. A good start to 2021.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A cedar waxwing looks for berries in a park in New England, January 2021.

For the Birds: Snow brings the birds

Photo by Chris Bosak A white-throated sparrow visits to a New England backyard, December 2020.

The first major snowstorm of the year hit New England with a varying degree of impact. Parts of the region were socked with a foot or more, while other parts were hardly touched.

I woke up to about a foot of light snow, and I loved it. As anticipated, the activity at the bird feeder was frenetic. Juncos, dozens of them, along with a few white-throated sparrows and a lone song sparrow grazed nervously on the ground under the feeder. Chickadees, titmice and nuthatches politely took turns at the hopper feeder, and a pair of Carolina wrens occupied the platform feeder.

The wrens were quickly displaced by a boisterous blue jay who made it very clear whose turn it was at the feeder. Not that the blue jay waited patiently in the first place. The big, Continue reading