For the Birds column: Milkweed and Monarchs

Photo by Chris Bosak Milkweed flowers bud in a meadow in Stamford, July 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Milkweed flowers bud in a meadow in Stamford, July 2015.

Here’s my latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, CT) and The Keene Sentinel in New Hampshire.

Why do so many people consider milkweed a useless weed?

Perhaps because it is so prevalent (or at least used to be). Perhaps because it grows in vacant parking lots and in cracks in sidewalks. Perhaps because that’s what we’ve been told and trained to think all these years. Or it could be because is has the word ‘weed’ right in its name.

Whatever the reason it’s time to change the way we think about milkweed. Here are some quick facts about the beautiful and valuable plant:

Click here for the rest of the column.

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For the Birds column: Get the lead out for loons

Photo by Chris Bosak A Common Loon swims on a lake in northern New Hampshire with two young loons.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Common Loon swims on a lake in northern New Hampshire with two young loons.

Here’s my latest For the Birds column from The Hour (Norwalk, CT) and Keene (NH) Sentinel.

***

Bad news trickled down from up north this week as the Loon Preservation Committee announced that necropsy results confirmed the first-of-the-year Common Loon death due to lead poisoning.

The loon was found on the shores and Lake Winnipesaukee in central New Hampshire. Loons face a slew of challenges in their northern breeding grounds. The biggest challenge, of course, is habitat loss. What else is new? But other factors such as collisions with boats (especially young loon), heavy rain washing away nests, and lead sinkers take a toll as well.

Then there are the predators, such as raccoons and foxes, that prey upon the eggs. Now I hear of another potential predator of loons. Of course, the comeback of the Bald Eagle is to be celebrated, but

Click here for the rest of the column.

When is nesting season over?

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove sits on a nest in early July at Sellecks/Dunlap Woods in Darien.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove sits on a nest in early July at Sellecks/Dunlap Woods in Darien.

Procrastinators rejoice. I’m going to give you an excuse to put off a few chores for another month or so.

Do you have trees on your property that need to come down? Bushes that need to be pruned? Perhaps a field or meadow that needs to be mowed?

Well, I’m not only giving you permission (not that you need that anyway) to hold off for a while, but urging you to do so.

An interesting email came my way this week from a New Hampshire couple. They had purchased property about 25 years ago that at the time was an abandoned Christmas tree lot. Most of the trees are now dead or dying and need to come down. The couple, to their credit, wants to make sure the nesting season is over before they go forward with any of the work.

So, just when is it safe to take down trees or cut fields that may house nesting birds?

There’s no exact date, of course. In general, though,

Click here for the rest of the article …

It’s nesting season all right

Photo by Chris Bosak A Baltimore Oriole nest in Stamford, Conn., May 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Baltimore Oriole nest in Stamford, Conn., May 2015.

I took a walk around a local park in Stamford, Conn., yesterday. I knew the warbler migration was winding down, but I figured I’d see a few late migrants and perhaps something else interesting. Something always happens when you make the effort to take a walk in the woods.

I was walking happily along looking up in the trees for movement. With the leaves out now, movement is the only way to spot most birds. I glanced down and suddenly found myself tip-toeing frantically to avoid bird droppings all over the trail. Not that it would have been a big deal if I stepped on one, but my brain recognize Continue reading

Bluebirds are back at Mather Meadows

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Bluebird stretches a wing as it rests on a birdhouse at Mather Meadows in Darien, Conn., April 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Bluebird stretches a wing as it rests on a birdhouse at Mather Meadows in Darien, Conn., April 2015.

Last spring I had a post on this site featuring a pair of Eastern Bluebirds at Mather Meadow, a property of the Darien Land Trust. This weekend I paid a visit to the property again and, sure enough, the bluebirds are back. I checked quickly and noted four blue eggs in the house. It’s so good to see them nesting there year after year. It wouldn’t have been possible without the hard work and determination of so many people at the Darien Land Trust. If the property (which is largely critical meadow property)  Continue reading

Clearing out my 2014 photos, take 9: Black-capped Chickadee

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-capped Chickadee clears out a cavity in a tree for a nesting site at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods in Darien in spring 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-capped Chickadee clears out a cavity in a tree for a nesting site at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien in spring 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting.

Admittedly not a great shot technically, but interesting to see a Black-capped Chickadee exiting a potential nesting hole with a bill full of dead wood shavings. A pair of chickadees worked their tails off getting this cavity ready for the nesting season. I’m not sure if they actually saw this whole project through or not. I kind of hope not because the tree was dead and pretty flimsy. I’m not sure it was strong enough to withstand some of the storms we get here in New England. I’m sure the birds know what they are doing. At any rate, chickadees first excavate a cavity and then build a small nest of materials such as moss to soften the bottom of the home.

Clearing out my 2014 photos, take 8: Least Tern

Photo by Chris Bosak A Least Tern sits among the rocks at the beach at Connecticut Audubon's Coastal Center at Milford Point in spring 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Least Tern sits among the rocks at the beach at Connecticut Audubon’s Coastal Center at Milford Point in spring 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting.

As we are now stuck in this deep freeze here in New England, here’s a warm-weather shot for you. It’s a Least Tern on the beach at Connecticut Audubon Coastal Center at Milford Point. Last week I posted a Piping Plover that I saw during my volunteering to monitor plovers and terns on the Connecticut shoreline. Well, here’s the other half: the terns. The plovers come in much earlier in the spring than the terns. Least Terns are handsome birds with yellow bills, compared the red or orange bills of most terns. Least Terns, as their name suggests, are also smaller than most terns. They can also be quite aggressive on their nesting areas (who can blame them?) and they will continually dive-bomb intruders. Yes, that includes innocent shorebird monitors just trying to help them out.

Piping Plovers and Least Terns are threatened species in Connecticut.