For the Birds: More gift ideas for your birdwatcher

Photo by Chris Bosak Ablack-capped chickadee grabs a sunflower seed from a Christmas decoration during the winter of 2016-17 in Danbury, Conn.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A black-capped chickadee grabs a sunflower seed from a Christmas decoration during the winter of 2016-17 in Danbury, Conn.

A few weeks ago I wrote about the perfect Christmas gift being a membership or donation to a local land trust or other conservation organization. Some of those memberships even come with physical goodies such as stickers, newsletters or magazines.

So now that all those gifts have been granted, it’s time to take a quick look at some more gift ideas for the birdwatcher on your list. These gifts can go under the tree and are guaranteed to put a smile on the face of your birder.

What you get a birdwatcher, as with any hobbyist, depends on their skill level and what they have already. Birdwatchers need a good pair of binoculars, but chances are they already have good optics. If you know them well enough to know what binoculars they are using and know they could use an upgrade, that gift would certainly be appreciated immensely.

Speaking of optics — and now we will jump right to the most expensive gift — consider getting your birder a spotting scope and tripod. Spotting scopes come in a huge range of prices, but you really want to avoid the super cheap ones as they do not do very well for birdwatching. Good scopes start at a couple hundred dollars and go up to several thousand dollars. Don’t forget a good tripod, too, as a scope is pretty much useless without a tripod. That’s another hundred bucks or more.

Now let’s get to the gifts that are more practical and do not have as many zeros on the price tag.

A good bird feeder is always a thoughtful gift. So are birdhouses. Birdhouses serve the dual purpose of attracting birds (hopefully anyway) and being a nice decoration for the yard. I liked the look of one birdhouse I received so much that I kept it inside for a long time on a shelf as a decoration to go along with my modest decoy collection.

When possible, get your feeders, houses, and other bird gifts from a local business. Even the franchise stores such as Wild Birds Unlimited are owned by local people who would love your business.

Birding apparel is getting more popular and many companies make clothes exclusively for birdwatchers. Wunderbird has a nice line of sweatshirts, long sleeve T-shirts, and short sleeve T-shirts that are designed for birders. The apparel features several pockets for your binoculars and other gear. Similarly, Big Pockets has vests and other apparel designed for outdoorspeople.

Bird and wildlife art also make for good gifts. There is the traditional art such as photographs or paintings for the wall, and also not-so-traditional art such as decoys and Christmas ornaments. I know my tree is covered with mostly bird ornaments and my boys razz me about it every time we break out the Christmas boxes.

Field guides or other books about birds are also welcome. There are tons of bird books out there, both old and new, that are highly informational and entertaining. A few print magazines about birds are hanging in there in this electronic age and a subscription would be a gift that gives all year.

Speaking of the electronic age, iTunes gift cards are a good idea if your high-tech birder would rather have his or her field guides and other birding information on the phone. I will admit, I’m not a techie by any means, but I do like having a field guide on my phone while I am birding in the field.

There are plenty of other ideas that I didn’t get to. A few bags of Birds and Beans coffee, anyone? It’s funny. For a hobby that requires very little in the way of equipment, there are certainly a lot of ways to spoil your birder.

Ads turned off on

Photo by Chris Bosak
A beach cluttered with brant is a good thing. A website cluttered with ridiculous ads is not a good thing.

You may have noticed less clutter on this site lately. With it being the holiday season and all, I decided to turn off the automated ad program to give my readers a more enjoyable and less frustrating experience. That, and I wasn’t making any money off of them anyway.

But I am happy to be back to publishing a blog/website free of automated ads. They pervasive on the Internet these days and serve little purpose other than bogging down one’s online experience. I kept them on my site for about eight months and I have to admit I cringed every time I opened the site and saw one of those ridiculous ads competing for space with my bird photos. No more! Away with you, automated ads!

I can’t promise ads are gone forever from, but if I do bring them back, they will be targeted static ads that I sell and approve myself. Now, if I only had a talent for selling … Oh well, I’ll figure it out. Happy holidays everybody. Enjoy your ad-free.

Good news from Connecticut beaches

Photo by Chris Bosak A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.

Here’s some good news from Connecticut Audubon regarding the success of shorebirds nesting on CT beaches. The nesting areas are monitored by volunteers and staff of the Audubon Alliance, a partnership with Connecticut Audubon Society(standalone organization), Audubon Connecticut (state chapter of national Audubon), CT DEEP, and Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. The main focus of the monitoring and study are piping plovers and least terns, as well as American oystercatchers.

I was a monitor years ago when I worked nights and loved it. There’s nothing being the first one to discover a piping nest. I use the word “nest” lightly as it’s nothing more than a slight indentation in the rocky/sandy beach. The birds and eggs Continue reading

A brief return to radio to talk about, what else?, birds

Photo by Chris Bosak
Common loons swim at May Pond in Pillsbury State Park in New Hampshire in June 2019.

Radio people often joke that they prefer that medium over television because they “have a face made for radio.” Well, after having my own radio show for a few years, I can say that I have a “voice made for newspapers.” (Hence, my long career in newspaper writing and editing.)

But, despite that, I recently appeared as a guest on John McGauley’s entertaining Friday radio show on WKBK in Keene, N.H. John reads my column in The Keene Sentinel and was intrigued by an article I had written about a bird population study. He asked if I’d do a quick interview to explain it further. Of course, I obliged and was happy to do so.

I hadn’t been on the radio since I pulled the plug on my Bird Calls Radio show six years ago (or thereabouts). John had some great questions and my answers were fairly intelligent (at least I think so) and delivered in my typical better-off-in-newspapers voice with lots of ums and ahs. So, if you’re a glutton for punishment, click on the link below. I’m on for about the first 20 minutes.

Click here for the audio.

Thanks to John and WKBK for the opportunity.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Common loons swim at May Pond in Pillsbury State Park in New Hampshire in June 2019.

Bird population fodder V (some good news finally)


After four days of hammering you with bad news, here are some good news graphics from the recently released bird population study that showed a decline of 2.9 billion birds, or 29 percent, in North American over the last 50 years.

Here’s my recent article on it.

The study’s accompanying website is