About Chris Bosak

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

Great blue heron at Merganser Lake (lots of shots)

Photo by Chris Bosak A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

It’s always nice when a bird is patient enough to let you experiment with different angles and magnifications. That was the case with this great blue heron I saw on Merganser Lake (really Lake Waubeeka) in Danbury, Conn., on Tuesday evening.

I know the photos are all very similar, but what magnification do you like?

Photo by Chris Bosak
A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A great blue heron stands on a dock at Lake Waubeeka in Danbury, Conn., during the summer of 2017.

Cicada emerges from exoskeleton

Photo by Chris Bosak A cicada emerges from its nymph exoskeleton on a tree in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A cicada emerges from its nymph exoskeleton on a tree in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

This one was all Will.

I was throwing the football around with Will, my 10-year-old, when he suddenly stopped by a tree and said: “Dad, come check this out.” He had found a cicada emerging from its nymph exoskeleton. In all my years, I’ve never seen this before. I’ve seen dozens of exoskeletons lying round but long after the cicada had emerged and started making its trademark noises from the trees.

This was also like no other cicada I had ever seen before. To be clear, I’m no expert on cicadas. Far from it. But I’ve seen plenty of them over the years. This one had green wings, really cool aqua-green wings. And green legs to boot. Perhaps they will change to clear wings after it is in the world a little longer, but at that moment anyway, it had green wings.

Will took a bunch of photos with my phone while I rushed for my camera and macro lens. His photos came out pretty well, too. I’ll include one at the bottom.

Nature has surprises around every corner. Sometimes it takes a 10-year-old to find them.

Photo by Chris Bosak A cicada emerges from its nymph exoskeleton on a tree in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A cicada emerges from its nymph exoskeleton on a tree in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

Here’s Will’s iPhone shot. Not bad.

Photo by Will Bosak A cicada emerges from its nymph exoskeleton on a tree in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Will Bosak
A cicada emerges from its nymph exoskeleton on a tree in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

Gardening with Melinda: Enjoy an Attractive and Convenient Composting Station

By Melinda Myers, LLC Decorative fences are an effective way to hide composting stations conveniently tucked behind gardens in the landscape.

By Melinda Myers, LLC
Decorative fences are an effective way to hide composting stations conveniently tucked behind gardens in the landscape.

By Melinda Myers

Make recycling green debris into compost convenient and attractive. Create a space you and your neighbors will appreciate. And locate composting in a convenient area that is easy to access and manage, so you are more likely to do it.

You’ll quickly recoup your initial investment of time and money.  Spend less time hauling the materials to the recycling center and money spent on soil amendments.

Most importantly, you’ll boost the health and beauty of your landscape while helping the environment.

Start by looking for spaces in the landscape or garden where compostable materials can easily be moved into the bin, pile turned, and the finished compost Continue reading

What’s an eastern wood-pewee look like anyway?

Photo by Chris Bosak An eastern wood-pewee perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An eastern wood-pewee perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

I stepped out onto the back deck this morning, coffee in one hand and a freshly cleaned and filled hummingbird feeder in the other. The din of a distant interstate highway and the song of an eastern wood-pewee were the only sounds I heard. The high-pitched “pe-weee” is ubiquitous in the summer in my woods. On mid-summer afternoon walks, sometimes that song is the only sign of birdlife to be experienced.

But while the eastern wood-pewee is often heard in New England woods, it isn’t seen as often. The woods are thick with vegetation and leaves in the summer, providing cover for the birds. Lighting is poor in the woods as those same leaves block the sun from illuminating the scene. Finally, eastern wood-pewees are small, nondescript birds. They don’t exactly stand out in a crowd.

So for the casual birder, and even some more experienced ones, eastern wood-pewees are often heard and rarely seen. Earlier this year, I found a stunned pewee on my front porch. It had hit my storm door and fell to the ground. Luckily it was only stunned and I picked it up, held it in my hand for a few minutes and watched it fly off to a nearby perch. As it collected its wits on the branch for a few moments, I had the opportunity to grab a few photos of it before it flew off to parts unknown.

I posted a few months ago a few photos of the bird while it was in my hand. Click here for that posting. Here are a few photos of an eastern wood-pewee in a more natural setting. Now you can see why they are so tough to find in the shaded woods.

Photo by Chris Bosak An eastern wood-pewee perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An eastern wood-pewee perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., summer 2017.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron preening

Photo by Chris Bosak  A yellow-crowned night heron preens in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A yellow-crowned night heron preens in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2017.

Birds preen to keep their feathers clean, strong and in order. The barbs sometimes come unattached and, amazingly enough, they can reattach the barbs with their bills.

Here’s a shot of a yellow-crowned night heron caught in the act.

Busy summer for hummingbirds

Photo by Chris Bosak A ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a branch near a feeder at Merganser Lake, Danbury, Conn.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a branch near a feeder at Merganser Lake, Danbury, Conn.

I’ve complained often over the years about the lack of hummingbirds I attract to my yard. Well, this is year is finally different. I’ve got males, females and first-year birds (both male and female presumably) and they visit frequently. I have a feeder in the backyard with the rest of the feeding station, and a suction cup feeder stuck to my office window. Both are busy all day, every day. It’s been a lot of fun watching them. Here are some shots of my visitors. (Females and first-year ruby-throated hummingbirds look very similar. I’m guessing this is an adult female because it is very territorial.)

Photo by Chris Bosak A ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a branch near a feeder at Merganser Lake, Danbury, Conn.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A ruby-throated hummingbird perches on a branch near a feeder at Merganser Lake, Danbury, Conn.

For the Birds: Growing up quickly in the bird world

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.

Photo by Chris Bosak Young Blue Jay at birdbath

Photo by Chris Bosak
Young Blue Jay at birdbath

They grow up fast, don’t they?

I’m not even talking about my own boys, who are eating me out of house and home with their darn growth spurts. I’m talking about the other youngsters growing up on my property — the birds, or course.

Watching the activity at the birdbath recently has been an education in just how quickly birds grow. I was watching a blue jay the other day and it took me a while to realize the bird looked a little different from the blue jays I was used to seeing. Mostly around the face, the bird just didn’t look right.

It was a youngster, or a fledgling to be more scientific. It doesn’t take long before young blue jays look just like their parents. It takes even less time before they are the size of their parents. This bird was in that short in-between phase when it was the size of an adult, but didn’t quite obtain the adult plumage.

The juvenile plumage disappears quickly in most songbirds, unlike some other types of birds when it can take years. A bald eagle, for instance, doesn’t obtain its white head for four or five years. But in songbirds, it’s a matter of a few short weeks.

The juvenile blue jay I watched tried a defense mechanism Continue reading

Yellow-crowned Night Heron chilling out

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow-crowned Night Heron in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2017.

Here’s a shot I got of a Yellow-crowned Night Heron just chilling out on a branch in a marsh last week. Yellow-crowned Night Herons are good at chilling out as that’s usually what I see them doing. Good for them.

Yellow-crowned Night Herons are birds of the marshes and other tidal areas. They look similar to their cousin, the Black-crowned Night Heron, which is found around brackish and fresh water. Black-crowned Night Herons are a bit more stocky, however.

And just a few more photos from Pittsburg, N.H.

Photo by Chris Bosak Black-throated green warbler in Pittsburg, N.H., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Black-throated green warbler in Pittsburg, N.H., summer 2017.

This post will put a lid on my recent trip to Pittsburg, N.H.

Photo by Chris Bosak White-tailed deer in Pittsburg, N.H., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
White-tailed deer in Pittsburg, N.H., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak Tiger Swallowtails gather at the edge of the pond at Deer Mountain Campground in Pittsburg, N.H., in summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Tiger Swallowtails gather at the edge of the pond at Deer Mountain Campground in Pittsburg, N.H., in summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak Family of Canada Geese in Pittsburg, N.H., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Family of Canada Geese in Pittsburg, N.H., summer 2017.