Latest For the Birds column: Wood Ducks show a tame side

Here’s the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.) and The Keene (NH) Sentinel.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Wood Duck mother swims with one of her babies at Woods Ponds in Norwalk, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Wood Duck mother swims with one of her babies at Woods Ponds in Norwalk, Conn., spring 2016.

The Mallards were scattered along the grass and I didn’t think twice about it. I’m used to Mallards being tame and not walking away, or even flinching, when someone draws near.

With many Mallards, even with babies in tow, they show little or no fear of humans. In fact, many even welcome the approach of humans as the ducks hope to get some food.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Wood Duck mother swims with two of her babies at Woods Ponds in Norwalk, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Wood Duck mother swims with two of her babies at Woods Ponds in Norwalk, Conn., spring 2016.

But in this particular flock of ducks, two females and their babies quickly retreated to the nearby pond. These ducks weren’t Mallards at all, but rather they were Wood Ducks. Two female Wood Ducks and their babies were “hanging out” with the Mallards in the grass near the pond before I pulled into the parking lot.

While the Mallards in the group, which consisted of most of the birds, did not even bother to wake up from their midday nap, the Wood Ducks’ instincts told them to retreat.

But the scene was still extremely surprising to me. First of all, you don’t always see Wood Ducks hanging out with Mallards. And, second of all, Continue reading

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Red eyes in the bird world

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-crowned Night Heron looks for food in Holly Pond in Stamford in summer 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-crowned Night Heron looks for food in Holly Pond in Stamford in summer 2015.

My most recent For the Birds column focuses on birds with red eyes. It starts with Black-crowned Night Herons and then talks about the other New England birds with red eyes. I can run only one photo with the column in the newspaper, so here are some more photos that would accompany the column. The column may be found here.

This is not an all-inclusive list, of course, just a few photos I had readily available.

Continue reading

Long-tailed Ducks in transition

Photo by Chris Bosak A pair of Long-tailed Ducks in transition plumage swims in Long Island Sound, April 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pair of Long-tailed Ducks in transition plumage swims in Long Island Sound, April 2015.

Here’s a shot of a pair of Long-tailed Ducks transitioning from their mostly white winter plumage to their mostly dark summer plumage. Some birds looks the same year-round and some birds look different in the summer and winter. Most ducks (but not all) go through a few different plumages as the year goes on.

These Long-tailed Ducks (formerly Oldsquaw) will be heading to their Arctic breeding grounds soon. When they are along coastal New England in the winter, we see their white plumage. It’s one of the few birds, in my opinion anyway, that look more decorated in the winter than in the summer. Take the Common Loon for instance. It sports its famous black-and-white spotted plumage in the summer, but changes to a much more drab grayish plumage in the winter.

We are lucky to have many Arctic nesters spend their winters in New England. It’s interesting to see their plumage transitions, giving us a glimpse of what they look like when they are “up north.”

Clearing out my 2014 photos, Take 3: Mourning Dove close up

Photo by Chris Bosak A Mourning Dove looks for seeds under a feeder during a snowy day in Jan. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Mourning Dove looks for seeds under a feeder during a snowy day in Jan. 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting. Here’s a Mourning Dove looking for food under my birdfeeder during a snowy day last winter. The photo was taken in January 2014. Check out the subtle colors in this beautiful bird.

A lingering Great Blue Heron; to migrate or not to migrate

Photo by Chris Bosak A Great Blue Heron stands on a dock near the Norwalk River on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Great Blue Heron stands on a dock near the Norwalk River on Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014.

Some try to stick out the New England winters and some fly south where it’s warmer. That can be said for several species of birds, but for this posting I’m talking about Great Blue Herons. The pictured bird was found earlier this week near Veterans Park in Norwalk, Conn.

It’s an interesting dilemma for the birds. What gives the better chance of survival? Sticking out a New England winter and subsisting on the small fish to be found, or risking the perils of migration and moving to a warmer climate? Both have their risks, of course. A particularly cold winter can spell doom for the herons that stay around. However, the risks Continue reading

Here’s the starling in winter

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A European Starling in winter plumage perches on an old sunflower stalk, Dec. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A European Starling in winter plumage perches on an old sunflower stalk, Dec. 2014.

This spring I wrote a post about starlings. Starlings are an invasive species to the United States and very numerous. In the spring, however, I saw a starling near my birdfeeder that caught my eye as visually striking. Well, it happened again. This time the starling was in its winter plumage, which is different from its breeding plumage.
The winter plumage is not always shown in field guides, so it causes confusion with some new birders. I have received emails from readers of my bird column asking what type of bird is in the photo they have attached and it is a starling in winter plumage.
So in this post you have a starling in its winter plumage. Still a striking bird. Click on the link below to see the bird in its breeding plumage.

Click here.