Stunned eastern wood-pewee survives


I found this guy on my porch as I was walking into the house this afternoon. He must have bumped into the bedroom window, and became stunned. I was happy to see that its neck looked OK. A broken neck from a window strike is fatal to birds.

Often, they are only stunned and need to collect their wits before they fly off and return to their day. I picked up the bird to keep it warm and calm. I was going to put it in a box and place it away from lurking predators. However, after a few seconds, I felt the bird try to flap its wings in my hand. I loosen my grip and the bird flew to a nearby branch. It immediately let out its trademark song, a high-pitched “pee-wee.”

It was an eastern wood-pewee and we will hear that song in the woods all summer.

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Good spring for rose-breasted grosbeaks

Photo by Chris Bosak A female rose-breasted grosbeak eat seeds at a platform feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., in spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female rose-breasted grosbeak eat seeds at a platform feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., in spring 2017.

I didn’t see my first one until May 17, but since then I’ve seen a good number of rose-breasted grosbeaks — always a welcomed sighting in the spring. The male is the flashy bird with black-and-white plumage and signature upside-down bright red triangle on his chest. The female is more muted in color, but still a handsome bird to see at the feeder. They both have large bills (they aren’t called grosbeaks for nothing) and easily crack the sunflower seeds offered at feeders.

I’ve also seen them at suet feeders, so those of us who feed birds into the summer (or year-round) can attract them with a variety of foods. Many people stop feeding birds in the spring. I don’t blame those who have bears to worry about, but those who stop feeding birds once the winter ends miss out on birds such as rose-breasted grosbeaks.

Above is a shot of the female at the feeder. Check out the sizable bill on her. Below is the male and female. Not a great shot, I know, but interesting to see them together. Another female was at the feeder seconds before this shot, but the female shown chased her away.

Photo by Chris Bosak A male and female rose-breasted grosbeak eat seeds at a platform feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., in spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A male and female rose-breasted grosbeak eat seeds at a platform feeder at Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., in spring 2017.

For the Birds: A migratory turn of events

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

Photo by Chris Bosak A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

My birdwatching fortunes this spring migration made an abrupt turn for the better last week.

The cool, wet weather – in addition to working and coaching youth baseball – had limited my time looking for birds. When I did get out there, the birdwatching was relatively slow: a towhee here, a thrush there.

I love my towhees and thrushes, of course, but the day of seeing a flurry of spring migrants had escaped me. The dry spell ended during a walk in the woods last week.

The woods themselves were alive with the sounds of ovenbirds, thrushes and even barred owls, which often sing during the day.

The ubiquitous “teacher-teacher-teacher” call of the ovenbird reminded me of a spring camping trip I did with the boys about five years ago. We canoed to a site on Grout Pond in Green Mountain National Park in southern Vermont. Once settled we walked through the woods and ovenbirds seemingly surrounded us the entire way.

It was a highlight of an otherwise, let me say difficult, camping experience. The wood was wet and wouldn’t burn, and rain fell throughout most of the cool day and cooler night. A steady wind made fishing impossible. The boys – then nine and five – fought and bickered the entire time.

I’ve had plenty of great camping experiences with the boys, but this was not one of them. I did have those ovenbirds, though.

Back to my walk Continue reading

Scarlet tanager makes spring appearance

A male scarlet tanager perches in a maple tree during spring migration 2017, in Danbury, Conn.

A male scarlet tanager perches in a maple tree during spring migration 2017, in Danbury, Conn.

It’s always nice when one of these guys lands in your yard. This is two years in a row I’ve played host to one of these flashy migrants. Now that’s a streak I hope continues.

The male scarlet tanager is arguably New England’s most brilliantly colored bird — in spring and summer, anyway. By the fall, he will molt into a much more dull plumage.

 

How’s your warbler season going?

Photo by Chris Bosak A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

We are heading to a point on the calendar where the spring warbler migration should be hitting its peak before trickling off as we head into the later weeks of May. The weather has been so cool and wet that many birders are wondering where the early part of the spring migration went.

I am included in that group as, between coaching youth baseball teams and having rain put a damper on birdwalks, my spring migration season has barely started .. and it’s already mid-May.

I did have a good walk recently with sightings of chestnut-sided warblers, blue-winged warblers, ovenbirds, wood thrushes, eastern towhees, and — to top it off — a male scarlet tanager. I also hear barred owls calling in the distance.

How is your spring migration season going? Let me know what you’re seeing out there.

A few singing warblers

Photo by Chris Bosak  An American redstart sings from a perch in New England in spring 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American redstart sings from a perch in New England in spring 2017.

It’s warbler season (despite the below-normal New England temperatures) so I may as well post a few photos of these little birds …

Hopefully there will be more to come.

Photo by Chris BosakA chestnut-sided warbler sings from a perch in New England in the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris BosakA chestnut-sided warbler sings from a perch in New England in the spring of 2017.

Lots of towhees on a rainy day

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee perches on a branch in Ridgefield, Conn., April 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee perches on a branch in Ridgefield, Conn., April 2017.

I spent some of the rainy Saturday at Bennett’s Pond in Ridgefield, Conn. I didn’t see or hear a single warbler, but I did see and hear several eastern towhees. It is a great bird with interesting plumage and a unique song.

Formerly called the rufous-sided towhee, this bird has light brown/reddish flanks. Its call is a loud and quickly uttered “tow-hee” and its song is the famous “drink-your-teaaa!” They are more often seen on the ground, scratching in the leaves to uncover food. The male is pictured in this post. The female, which I couldn’t photograph yesterday but did see, is also a handsome bird with white and reddish light brown plumage.

They were passing through in large numbers Saturday. I hope at least a few of them stick around locally to nest. It’s a great bird to see in summer when the birding can get a little slow.

You can even see the little rain drops on this guy.

Here’s one of him singing: Drink-your-teaaa!

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee sings from a perch in Ridgefield, Conn., April 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee sings from a perch in Ridgefield, Conn., April 2017.

 

Latest For the Birds column: Hawkwatching primer

Photo by Chris Bosak An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Osprey soars over the Norwalk River on Monday, Sept. 1, 2014.

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

A September would not be complete without a bird column on the fall hawk migration. For many, the hawk migration is the highlight of the fall season, despite there being many other birding options this time of year.
It’s hard to blame those people who feel that way. You can’t complain about spending a sunny, crisp fall day on the top of a mountain or other open area looking for hawks coming down from the north. Pick the right day and you may see hundreds of hawks making their way to their winter grounds.
The trick for many people, including myself, is figuring out which hawk is which from such a distance in the sky. I have gotten better over the years but certainly not to the level of the experts at the popular hawkwatching sites throughout New England. The experts, who are trained in this sort of thing, know the identification of the bird long before I can even see it out in the horizon.

The other trick to hawkwatching is picking the right day. Weather plays a big role in the fall hawk migration. Pick a day with a steady southerly wind and you’ll likely see very few hawks. Which hawk wants to battle a stiff headwind to start a thousand-mile (or more) journey.

But, pick a sunny day following a cold Continue reading

Latest For the Birds column: For some birds, humans are a rarity

Here’s the latest For the Birds column. This one’s a little different. Let me know what you think. Thanks for taking a look at http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com.

Photo by Chris Bosak Yellow-rumped Warbler in Selleck's Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Yellow-rumped Warbler in Selleck’s Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2014.

Is it possible that the bird in your backyard has never seen a human before?

It’s not likely, but if there were ever a time for that happen, it’s during the fall migration.

If we were a little farther north in New England, the odds would be much greater. Even in the middle of New England, however, the possibility still exists — at least in my very unscientific estimation. The adult birds, those that flew through our region on their northern migration in the spring, have almost certainly seen humans.

But first-year birds, those born a few short months ago, who knows? Maybe you are the first human one is seeing.

It would take a relatively cautious bird species that breeds in the vast Boreal Forest of the northern U.S. and Canada. So a Gray Catbird or Baltimore Oriole passing through has likely seen plenty of humans already, having likely been born in the suburbs.

But one of any number of warbler, vireo or fly Continue reading

A few more warblers from this spring

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-throated Green Warbler perches in a tree in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Here are a few shots of warblers I got this spring but haven’t posted yet. So here they are, just kind of thrown at you in no particular order and without much description …

Oh, and there’s a few warbler shots at the end of the post that I took this year and had already posted. You can never have enough warbler photos.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow Warbler perches on a branch in Greenwich, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow Warbler perches on a branch in Greenwich, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Danbury, Conn., spring 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Blue-winged Warbler seen at Fairchild Wildflower Sanctuary in Greenwich, Conn., May 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Ovenbird stands on a log in Danbury, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Palm Warbler perches on a branch near a pool of water in Selleck's Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Palm Warbler perches on a branch near a pool of water in Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Selleck's Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Yellow-rumped Warbler perches on a branch in Selleck’s Woods, Darien, Conn., April 2016.

Hooded Warbler in Danbury, Ct., spring 2016.

Hooded Warbler in Danbury, Ct., spring 2016.