About Chris Bosak

Bird columnist and nature photographer based in New England. Co-managing editor of The Hour newspaper. Bird

A few more Scarlet Tanager photos

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

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

You had to see this coming. More Scarlet Tanager photos! When you get a cooperative Scarlet Tanager (this was the first one I’ve ever come across) you have to do more than one post about it …

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

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

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

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

Nothing like a Scarlet Tanager sighting when you least expect it

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

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

Well, I didn’t expect this guy to show up in the yard in mid-July. Typically I see the spectacular Scarlet Tanager in mid to late May and not again until the fall migration, if I’m lucky, or even next spring. Perhaps this means that it nested nearby. I sure hope so. Or, it could be an early southward migrant, but not likely. At any rate, I was happy to entertain it over the last few days. Hopefully it sticks around.

This is the male Scarlet Tanager. Females are dull yellow. During the fall migration, the males will lose this spectacular plumage and look somewhat similar to females. This guy is just starting to turn … note the yellow spot on its head.

More photos to come …

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

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


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

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

Latest For the Birds column: Gray Catbirds’ time to shine

Photo by Chris Bosak A Gray Catbird perches on a thorny branch in Selleck's/Dunlap Woods in summer 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Gray Catbird perches on a thorny branch in Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in summer 2014.

Here’s the latest For the Birds column. Thanks for supporting http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com

It’s a rare summer that goes by without me writing a column about catbirds.

Aside from robins, they are perhaps the dominant songbird of a New England summer. At my new home, chipping sparrows may give them a run for their money, but gray catbirds are certainly a reliable daily sighting.

Throughout much of the year, I feel, the catbird is overlooked. Of course, they are migratory so we don’t even see them during the colder months. Therefore, it’s understandable that we don’t think too much about them in the winter. I have seen a few over the years on Christmas Bird Counts, but that’s pretty rare.

That leaves spring, summer and fall for us to enjoy the gray catbird. In the spring we are overwhelmed with the number of songbirds passing through. Also, the birds that nest in our area start that process in spring, so that’s another demand on our attention. The catbirds arrive in spring to little fanfare.

In the fall our attention is similarly focused on the southward migration. It’s a glorious time of year when adult and first-year birds pass through our parks and backyards in big numbers. Hawks are the stars of the birding world in the fall, but great numbers of ducks and songbirds are also there for the seeing.

But summer is a different story. The migrants, other than perhaps some shorebirds, are nowhere to be seen. Even most of the birds that nest in New England are seen with less frequency in the summer. The nuthatches and titmice that overwhelm our feeding stations in the winter are certainly around but as ubiquitous as in other seasons.

American robins are so plentiful and common in the summer that they almost blend into the landscape. We certainly appreciate the robins, but they lose their “wow” factor after a while.

Suddenly it’s the catbird’s time to shine. They meow like cats from the bushes, sing conspicuously from obvious perches, chase insects along the ground and become one of our most common avian sightings. For a bird that is mostly dark gray, the catbird is a genuine looker. It also sports a black cap and a rusty red undertail covert, which is not always visible.

Many birds are named for what they look like and many birds are named for what they sound like. The gray catbird is named for both. The “gray” in the name obviously comes from the bird’s coloration. The “cat” part comes from the cat-like sound it often makes while hiding in the bushes.

Now is the time to take notice and appreciate this handsome, charismatic bird. The migrants will be back before we know it and catbirds will again be out of the spotlight.

New hummingbird video, better close-ups

Here’s another iPhone video of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. I posted one last fall, too, but this one is much closer. Wait until the end to see the close-up, slo-mo.

Birds at the Birdbath finale: Tufted Titmouse with bonus old photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A Tufutaced Titmouse perches on the edge of a birdbath in New England, fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Tufutaced Titmouse perches on the edge of a birdbath in New England, fall 2015.

Here are the final photos in the series Birds at the Birdbath. It’s not the most exciting photo so I’ve included in this post a few older birdbath photos I’ve taken over the years.

Thanks checking out http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com

Photo by Chris Bosak Gray Catbird at birdbath.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Gray Catbird at birdbath.

Photo by Chris Bosak Young Blue Jay at birdbath

Photo by Chris Bosak
Young Blue Jay at birdbath

Photo by Chris Bosak Robins invade a birdbath.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Robins invade a birdbath.

Birdbath photo III: Northern Cardinal with bald head

Photo by Chris Bosak A Northern Cardinal drinks from a bird bath in New England, fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Northern Cardinal drinks from a bird bath in New England, fall 2015.

This guy hung around the feeders and birdbath for much of the fall of 2015. To answer the burning question, I’m not sure what happened to the feathers on his head. Mites? Molt? Either way, the feathers likely grew back by the winter and the bird was fine.

Start of a new photo series: Birds at the Bath

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue Jay drinks from a birdbath in New England, spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue Jay drinks from a birdbath in New England, spring 2016.

Here’s the first of a few photos showing birds at the bath this spring. I took these photos and never really looked at them until now. Some are pretty cool.

Remember, if you have birdbaths in your yard, keep them clean and filled with fresh water every day in the summer. Otherwise it’s a breeding ground for mosquitoes, bacteria and other yucky stuff. Or just bring the bath in until fall.

Bonus Green Heron photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A Green Heron runs across the grass at a park in Darien, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Green Heron runs across the grass at a park in Darien, Conn., spring 2016.

Just realized I never posted these extra Green Heron photos. Here are some bonus photos from a previous posting about Green Herons.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Green Heron hunts from a rock in Darien, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Green Heron hunts from a rock in Darien, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Green Heron hunts from a rock in Darien, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Green Heron stands on a rock in Darien, Conn., spring 2016.