For the Birds: Giving birds a hand

Fishing line tangled around a branch.

Last week I wrote about an adventure my son Will and I had freeing an eastern kingbird from fishing line. Will was fishing with some friends when he noticed a bird struggling frantically and dangling underneath a branch.

He ran to get me and we worked together to free the bird. There was still a lot of energy in the bird’s struggle, so I am guessing it wasn’t tangled for too terribly long. Otherwise, its struggling would have been less frequent and less energetic. Or even worse, it could easily have died if it had been there long enough without being noticed.

Unfortunately, death is an all-too-frequent result for birds that either become tangled, hooked or snagged by discarded fishing line. I recall years ago coming across the pathetic scene of a belted kingfisher dangling lifelessly above a small stream. Abandoned fishing line had snared the bird and no one found it until it was too late.

I also recall a few years ago seeing a red-throated loon with fishing line around its bill and head in Long Island Sound. This bird, however, was still alive and I even saw it catch a fish, so perhaps this bird’s situation had a better outcome. I had no way of catching the loon; I could only watch — hopelessly — from the shore.

Birds have a tough row to hoe to begin with in nature without having to deal with so many man-made obstacles. Windows, wind turbines, cell towers, cats, cars, and pesticides pose significant obstacles to birds worldwide. Loss of habitat, of course, is perhaps the most serious challenge we throw at birds. Add discarded fishing line to the mix and it’s yet another hindrance we add to decrease a bird’s odds of survival.

There are measures we can take to lessen this bird mortality. Decals on windows, keeping cats indoors, using only natural pesticides, and picking up discarded fishing line can all go a long way toward helping birds survive longer and increase their populations.

So, the next time you are out walking along a lake, river, or pond, and you see fishing line dangling from a nearby branch, grab it if it is in reach and discard of it properly. Whether it is your fishing line or not, go ahead and remove it and potentially save a bird from a horrible, slow death.

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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.

Nice to see this guy back

Photo by Chris Bosak A male ruby-throated humminacgbird visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak A male ruby-throated hummingbird visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Not sure if it’s the same male ruby-throated hummingbird I had last fall, but at any rate, it was good to see him return to the feeder a few days ago. He’s been their daily, several times a day. The female is still hanging around, too. Hopefully there’s a love connection there and they’ll build a nest somewhere on my property. I’ll keep my eyes open.

 

Another shot of the ‘pileated’ woodpecker

Photo by Chris Bosak  A pileated woodpecker looks for insects at the base of a tree at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., April 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pileated woodpecker looks for insects at the base of a tree at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., April 2017.

Here’s another photo of the pileated woodpecker I saw the other day.

Hearing the name of this remarkable bird begs the question: What does pileated mean? According to dictionary.com, it simply means “crested,” an apt name for this woodpecker. There’s also this, more descriptive, definition from thefreedictionary.com: “Etymologically means “capped,” like a mushroom, but now refers to a bird with a crest on the top of the head from the bill to the nape.”

So there you have it …

 

Bald Eagle visits pond

Photo by Chris Bosak A Bald Eaglea fies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Bald Eagle flies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

I live on Merganser Lake (real name Lake Waubeeka). A short walk away, down a trail that starts at my backyard, is Little Merganser Lake (really the Beaver Pond.) I like Little Merganser Lake because it is completely undeveloped and isolated. A wide variety of wildlife, mostly birds, can be seen at the lake and pond, but the pond is more productive because of its relative remoteness.

I’ve seen some pretty good ducks and herons down there, but today I saw a Bald Eagle there for the first time. I heard it calling and then it soared overhead. It was impossible to miss. Bald Eagles are becoming more and more popular and nest on nearby lakes such as Candlewood and Lillinonah. So to see one here is not overly surprising, but as I said, it was first time seeing one, so of course I have to post about it.

The photos, admittedly, are not the best because of the gray, drizzly conditions, but you get the picture …

Photo by Chris Bosak A Bald Eagle flies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Bald Eagle flies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 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 Continue reading

Apparently Red-bellied Woodpeckers like peanuts, too

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-bellied Woodpecker takes a peanut from a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-bellied Woodpecker takes a peanut from a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

I wrote a few weeks ago about Blue Jays and how they love whole peanuts. They literally wait on nearby branches waiting for me to put some down on the platform feeder.

Now the Blue Jays have competition. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker discovered the peanut station and visits daily to take as many peanuts as I’ll put out there.

Here’s a few more photos of the Red-bellied Woodpecker.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-bellied Woodpecker perches near a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-bellied Woodpecker perches near a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-bellied Woodpecker takes a peanut from a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-bellied Woodpecker takes a peanut from a homemade birdfeeder in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

 

Click here to see the post on Blue Jays.

And click here for the follow up post with more photos