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.

5 New England ‘poster birds’ for climate change

Photo by Chris Bosak Bobolink

Photo by Chris Bosak
Bobolink

In response to the recently released State of the Birds 2014 report, Patrick Comins, the director of bird conservation with Audubon Connecticut, spoke about the 5 “poster birds” that will be most affected by climate change and the accompanying shifts in bird population. He was speaking specifically about Connecticut, but certainly all of New England will see this impact.

Comins spoke during a telephone conference to journalists on Wednesday.

Here are the birds he picked:

Saltmarsh Sparrow: Currently breeds in Connecticut, but has difficulty with rising sea levels and high tides. Rising tides will only become worse over the next several decades.

Bobolink: This meadow nester will likely not nest or be seen often in Connecticut over the next several decades.

Dunlin: This handsome shorebird currently nests and may be seen throughout winter along the New England coast. It’s nesting ability in Connecticut, as Comins put it, will “become zero.” It will move its range north and perhaps New England will get some winter views of this bird.

Blue-winged Warbler: This handsome bright yellow warbler will “move up and out.”

Veery: Comins almost picked the Wood Thrush for his final bird, but chose the Veery. It will become scarce in New England.

The phrase “over the next several decades” may give some people cause to relax and think “I’ll never notice it” or “maybe things will change.” But the “next several decades” will be here before we know it. There have been staggering declines in bird populations over the last 40 years. We’re talking some species dropping in number by 50, 60 even 80 percent. That’s just the last 40 years. That’s basically yesterday evolutionarily speaking. Jeez, I can remember 40 years ago. It bothers me to think this decline all happened in my lifetime.

Hopefully the State of the Birds report will get the attention it deserves and affect positive change for birds and all wildlife.

The full report may be found here.

Purple Martins banded at Sherwood Island

Photo by Chris Bosak A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Photo by Chris Bosak
A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Sometimes fun news assignments come across our offices at The Hour newspaper. If it has to do with birds it usually ends up being forwarded to my email address by everyone else who receives it. Not that I mind, of course.

Photo by Chris Bosak A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Photo by Chris Bosak
A volunteer from Department of Energy and Environmental Protection holds a young Purple Martin while she identifies the age during a Purple Martin banding event held Thursday, July 10, 2014, at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.,

Such was the case this week when the Friends of Sherwood Island (a state park in Westport, Conn.) sent a release announcing a Purple Martin banding project. I attended the event, of course, and marveled as staff and volunteers from state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and Friends of Sherwood Island took young martins from their nest, fitted them with bands, weighed and measured them, recorded data and returned them to the nests.  As all this was going on, the adult martins fearlessly and undaunted continued to hunt for insects to bring back to the colony.

I even got to return five baby Purple Martins to their gourd. It was the first time I’ve ever held a Purple Martin. Very cool.

For the complete story and photos from The Hour photographer Erik Trautmann, click here.

Photo for next For the Birds column

Photo by Chris Bosak A Least Tern flies over its nesting grounds at Milford Point in Milford, CT, in June 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Least Tern flies over its nesting grounds at Milford Point in Milford, CT, in June 2014.

Here’s a sneak peek at the photo that will accompany my next For the Birds column that will appear in The Hour (Norwalk, CT) tomorrow (Thursday, July 10) and The Keene Sentinel on Monday, July 14. Check those newspapers’ respective websites to see the column soon.

If you live in New England and your local newspaper does not carry “For the Birds,” give the editor a call and suggest that they pick it up. They can contact me via this website. Thanks!

Love those bluebirds (plenty of photos)

Photo by Chris Bosak Eastern Bluebird at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Eastern Bluebird at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust.

Eastern Bluebirds are nesting again at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust. Here are some photos I took during a quick visit on Tuesday morning. (More photos below — click on “continue reading.”)

Eastern Bluebirds have made a strong comeback following a decline due to several factors, including competition for nesting sites with introduced species such as House Sparrows and European Starlings. The comeback has been bolstered in large part to humans offering nesting sites to bluebirds, a.k.a bluebird houses. The houses are built to specific dimensions, including the entry/exit hole sized to keep out sparrows and starlings. Bluebirds still face competition for those homes from Tree Sparrows, but the competition is not as fierce.

Continue reading

Shorebird quiz time: Find the Piping Plover

Photo by Chris Bosak Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, Conn., April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Piping Plover at Coastal Center at Milford Point, Conn., April 2014.

My latest For the Birds Column focuses on the Audubon Alliance for Coastal Waterbirds, or in other words, volunteering to monitor Piping Plovers, Least Terns, American Oystercatchers and other shorebirds. The program is important in order to help protect these threatened birds. (See the column here.)

To give you an idea of the challenges faced by volunteers in finding Piping Plovers, here’s a fun little quiz for everybody. When on the beach you really have to look for motion in order to find the birds most of the time as they blend in so terrifically with their beach surroundings. With that in mind … the task of the quiz is simple: find the Piping Plover in the above photo.

Let me know how you did. I’ll post the answer later this week for those who can’t find it.

Purple Martins arrive in New England

Contributed photo Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation at Connecticut Audubon, sets up the Purple Martin gourds at the Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, April 14, 2014.

Contributed photo
Milan Bull, Senior Director of Science and Conservation at Connecticut Audubon, sets up the Purple Martin gourds at the Coastal Center at Milford Point on Monday, April 14, 2014.

It’s Purple Martin season in New England! Last week I ran into David Winston and Patrick Duggan putting up the Purple Martin gourds at Cove Island Park in Stamford. On Monday, after finishing my volunteer Piping Plover monitoring duties at the Coastal Center at Milford Point (CT), I ran into Milan Bull of Connecticut Audubon putting up the gourds there.

Purple Martin at Cove Island in Stamford.

Purple Martin at Cove Island in Stamford.

The Purple Martins had already arrived and many perched on the poles as Milan worked underneath to get the gourds ready. I even got my hands dirty and helped him out a bit (of course, he was nearly done by the time I got there.)

Purple Martins will return to the same site year after year, so if you were successful in getting Purple Martins last year, get your gourds or houses up soon. If you were not successful last year, or are trying for the first time this year, you can get the houses up now, or wait a few weeks. Younger birds seeking to start a new colony will arrive throughout the next several weeks, or even months. Just keep an eye on the gourds or houses for House Sparrows. Remove the nests if House Sparrows take up residence.

I’m far from an expert in attracting Purple Martins, so for more detailed information about Purple Martins, I’ll refer you to this site: http://www.purplemartin.org/

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