Bird Book Look: Birding at the Bridge

Here is another bird book that came out this year for your consideration during this holiday season.This one came out in early summer, and is titled “Birding at the Bridge: In Search of Every Bird on the Brooklyn Waterfront,” by Heather Wolf, published by The Experiment. 

It is largely a picture book, but does include interesting text on each of the species featured in the book. Cities, especially a borough of New York City, may not be regarded as birding hotspots, but the author and photographer prove that that is not necessarily the case.

Below is more information on the book, taken from a press release from the publisher.

Be sure to visit the Bird Book Look page on this site for other book gift ideas.


Bright lights, big city, and . . . birds? The Brooklyn Bridge once overshadowed a decaying industrial waterfront, but today it points the way to a new green oasis: Brooklyn Bridge Park. When avid birder Heather Wolf moved from tropical Florida to a nearby apartment, she wondered how many species she might see there, and soon came to a surprising realization: Not only is the park filled with an astonishing variety of birds, but the challenges that come with urban birding make them even more fun—and rewarding—to find.

 Camera in hand, Heather has captured scores of memorable scenes—a European starling pokes its head out of a hole in a snack shop, a marsh wren straddles two branches, common grackle nestlings clamor for food above the basketball courts—in more than 150 stunning photographs that will entrance birders and bird lovers, wherever their local patch may be. From the familiar-but-striking bufflehead duck to the elusive mourning warbler, every species comes to life on the page, foraging, nesting, and soaring in the slice of the city where they’ve made themselves at home. Discover the thrilling adventure of birding in the great outdoors—in the heart of Brooklyn. 

Latest For the Birds column: Is another extinction coming?

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

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

….

The 2016 version of the Connecticut State of the Birds report is perhaps the most disconcerting yet, especially with the mention of the “E” word

That word, of course, is extinction and it’s not a word bandied about lightly in the bird world. But there it is in black and white in “State of the Birds 2016: Gains, Losses and The Prospect of Extinction.” See? There it is right in the title of the report.

The word is used to describe the Saltmarsh Sparrow, which unless serious conservation efforts are taken (and are successful), “faces likely extinction within 50 years,” according to the report. Saving the Saltmarsh Sparrow is tricky because, as its name suggests, it is a bird of the salt marshes, one of the habitats most in peril.

The reports takes a look at bird population trends over the last 10 years. The Saltmarsh Sparrow may be the species most in danger, but unfortunately, the news is grim for other birds as well. Another denizen of salt marshes, the Clapper Rail, as well as shrubland birds Blue-winged Warbler and Brown Thrashers are also seeing steep declines in number. The Piping Plover, a coastal favorite among birders, is also continuing to lose ground, even though great efforts have been made to protect them.

The greatest threat to all these birds is the destruction of their habitat. They require a very specific habitat on which to nest and those habitats are becoming scarce throughout Connecticut and New England. It’s not like a Saltmarsh Sparrow can suddenly pack its bags and move to the woods to raise a family.

Milan G. Bull, Connecticut Audubon’s senior director of science and conservation, has been involved with all 11 State of the Birds reports. He said the dire warnings about the Saltmarsh Sparrow should be heeded.

“(The) most disturbing (trend), though, is the likely extinction of the Saltmarsh Sparrow because of sea level rise,” Bull said. “It would be the first avian extinction in the continental U.S. since the Heath Hen in 1931. There’s no way to characterize that as anything but a disaster.”

Chris Elphick of the University of Connecticut researched and wrote about tidal marsh birds. He made the eye-opening prediction about the Saltmarsh Sparrow.

“We now know these birds are in more trouble than was suspected, and that we need to act soon if we wish to protect them,” he wrote in the report.

So what can be done? The authors of the report don’t merely throw bad news out there. They offered several recommendations on what can be done to help these birds at risk.

Among the recommendations are: institute national policies to slow sea level rise and reduce global warming; land owners should look for ways to create, maintain or expand shrub-scrub habitat; meet state’s goal of protecting 21 percent of the state’s land by 2023; start planning and funding for a breeding bird atlas; and find “new and novel funding mechanisms for non-game conservation efforts.”

The news wasn’t all bad, however. Some bird species are faring better than expected. The Indigo Bunting and Prairie Warbler have seen gains in recent years.

It’s always nice to look at the bright side, but we shouldn’t be blinded by it. The dark side of bird population trends is much more illuminating and in need of consideration.

 

The PDF of the full version of the report may be found here.

Bird Book Look: “Wildlife Spectacles”


With the holiday season uponus, I figured I would rekindle the Bird Book Look feature of this blog. Remember, the posts are not necessarily reviews and recommendations, but merely me letting you all know about some of the new bird and wildlife books that are out there. Visit the Bird Book Look page, which you can see in the menu above, to see the previous posts. Most are available in bookstores, and I’m sure all of them can be found on Amazon.

This post’s featured book is: “Wildlife Spectacles: Mass Migrations, Mating Rituals, and Other Fascinating Animal Behaviors” by Vladimir Dinets. It is published Continue reading

The other New England squirrel

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red Squirrel stands its ground on a branch in Terrywile Park in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red Squirrel stands its ground on a branch in Tarrywile Park in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.

Here’s a nice shot of a Red Squirrel taken last week in Tarrywile Park in Danbury, Conn. The Gray Squirrel is the dominant squirrel in New England, especially the southern part of the region, but Red Squirrels are common in the area as well. I appreciate my Red Squirrel sightings because I don’t see them very often at my home in southern New England. When I visit northern New England, I see plenty of Red Squirrels and hardly see any Gray Squirrels.

Of course, New England is also home to Flying Squirrels (which don’t actually fly, but soar) but I rarely see them, unfortunately. They are a sight not to forget when you do see them.

Gardening: Add some eye candy to your garden this fall

Photo credit: Longfield Gardens Dutch Master daffodils, Involve tulips and Muscari provide several layers of color in the garden.

Photo credit: Longfield Gardens
Dutch Master daffodils, Involve tulips and Muscari provide several layers of color in the garden.

By Melinda Myers
Shorten the winter season with the help of spring flowering bulbs that you plant in fall. These beauties often provide the first bit of color, fragrance and winter relief each year.

Look for new and unique ways to incorporate bulbs into your landscape. Create a seasonal water feature with a river of blue scillas and grape hyacinths meandering through the garden. Welcome visitors with a front door or walkway garden that blooms from early spring through early summer and is loaded with crocus, tulips, daffodils and allium.

Don’t overlook those shady spots. Many of these locations provide enough early season sun, before the trees leaf out, for bulbs to grow and flower. Use more shade tolerant spring bloomers like snowdrops, grape hyacinths, scillas, anemones, daffodils, fritillarias and Camassias in shady areas among hostas, ferns and other shade tolerant perennials.

Whether you’re new or experienced, growing bulbs is an easy endeavor. Just follow these simple steps to a beautiful spring garden.

Selection

Purchase bulbs that are dense and firm, and free of bruises or mold. Shop early for the best selection. Mail order sources will ship your Continue reading

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

Fifth photo in hummingbird series

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a thorny branch in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Ruby-throated Hummingbird perches on a thorny branch in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2014.

Here’s the fifth photo in the hummingbird series. Here’s another one I got when I was watching the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at the thorn bushes at the Dolce Center in Norwalk, Conn. I like the tongue sticking out.

Birds at the Birdbath finale: Tufted Titmouse with bonus old photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A Tufutaced Titmouse perches on the edge of a birdbath in New England, fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Tufutaced Titmouse perches on the edge of a birdbath in New England, fall 2015.

Here are the final photos in the series Birds at the Birdbath. It’s not the most exciting photo so I’ve included in this post a few older birdbath photos I’ve taken over the years.

Thanks checking out http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com

Photo by Chris Bosak Gray Catbird at birdbath.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Gray Catbird at birdbath.

Photo by Chris Bosak Young Blue Jay at birdbath

Photo by Chris Bosak
Young Blue Jay at birdbath

Photo by Chris Bosak Robins invade a birdbath.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Robins invade a birdbath.