Bluebird and pine warbler, a look back

Photo by Chris Bosak An eastern bluebird and pine warbler share a suet feeder in New England, April 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

Unfortunately, the bluebirds that had visited daily since February have moved on. I haven’t seen them in about a week. Hopefully they will return next winter. It seems an appropriate time to look back on an action-packed April, which included scenes like this: an eastern bluebird and pine warbler sharing a suet feeder.

Palm warbler searches in the moss

Photo by Chris Bosak A palm warbler searches for food in a bed of moss, April 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

Warbler season, sadly, is done for the year. The warblers that remain are the nesters, which is exciting in its own right. Here’s a throwback photo of a palm warbler I saw back in April. Palm warblers are one of the first warblers to arrive in New England each spring.

American redstart male and female

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female American redstart perches on a branch in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

Like most warblers, American redstarts are dimorphic. (From Wikipedia: Sexual dimorphism is the condition where the two sexes of the same species exhibit different characteristics beyond the differences in their sexual organs.) In other words, males and females look different from each other. Females are usually duller in color so as to not attract the attention of predators. Cardinals are one of the most obvious examples. Chickadees and many other birds are sexually monomorphic. I got these shots of male and female redstarts yesterday and those terms came to mind.

Here’s the male …

Photo by Chris Bosak
A male American redstart perches on a branch in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

Birds to brighten your day: May 18

Photo by Chris Bosak A chestnut-sided warbler lurks in the brush in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake

Warbler season was on full display over the weekend. One of my favorite warblers is the chestnut-sided warbler. I like the color scheme and anything with the color chestnut has got to be cool. This guy was lurking among the bushes as I was trying to find a different warbler. I’m glad he made himself known.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Birds to brighten your day: May 14

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American redstart perches in a bush at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut, May 2020.

Something woke me up around 3:30 a.m. and I couldn’t fall back asleep. I gave up trying when the darkness outside my window started to brighten. What the heck, I told myself. It’s the height of warbler season so let’s go find some warblers. I made a cup of coffee and raced the rising sun to a nearby park. I headed down a path that has led to warblers in the past. It did again this time. There wasn’t a tremendous variety of warblers (maybe seven species) but the ones I did see kept me entertained.

My favorite was this American redstart that followed me along the path for an inordinate amount of time. It gave me great looks at it, but it would not sit still very well for photos. I managed a few decent shots despite his hyperactivity. A few more photos are below.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American redstart perches in a bush at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut, May 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak An American redstart perches on a branch at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut, May 2020.

Birds to brighten your day: May 10 (Part II)

Photo by Chris Bosak
An ovenbird perches on snowy branches at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut during a rare May snowfall in 2020.

Usually I post my latest bird column on Sunday and leave it at that. But yesterday (yes May 9) many in New England woke up to a snow-covered ground and then got another dose of the white stuff later in the day. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get up early and head into the woods to try to get photos of warblers and other spring migrants that we typically don’t associate with snow. There was just a covering of snow and the morning sun was melting it quickly so I had to hurry. I ended up with a few shots of an ovenbird and a blue-winged warbler on snowy branches. Strange times, indeed. (I’ll post the ovenbird a bit later today.)

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there!

(Here’s even more repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Photo by Chris Bosak
An ovenbird perches on snowy branches at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut during a rare May snowfall in 2020.

Birds to brighten your day: May 10

Photo by Chris Bosak A blue-winged warbler perches on snowy branches at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut during a rare May snowfall in 2020.

Usually I post my latest bird column on Sunday and leave it at that. But yesterday (yes May 9) many in New England woke up to a snow-covered ground and then got another dose of the white stuff later in the day. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get up early and head into the woods to try to get photos of warblers and other spring migrants that we typically don’t associate with snow. There was just a covering of snow and the morning sun was melting it quickly so I had to hurry. I ended up with a few shots of an ovenbird and a blue-winged warbler on snowy branches. Strange times, indeed. (I’ll post the ovenbird a bit later today.)

Happy Mothers Day to all the moms out there!

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Photo by Chris Bosak A blue-winged warbler perches on snowy branches at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut during a rare May snowfall in 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A blue-winged warbler perches on snowy branches at Bennett’s Farm State Park in Connecticut during a rare May snowfall in 2020.

For the Birds: Patience is key, even though it’s hard

Photo by Chris Bosak A yellow-rumped warbler perches on a clothesline in Danbury, CT, April 2020. (Merganser Lake)

I doubt Tom Petty had birdwatching in mind when he wrote the lyrics “the waiting is the hardest part,” but it sure is appropriate for birders in the spring.


Signs of spring start as early as January or February when a few hardy flowers poke out of the ground. Owls also start their breeding season about this time but that is done in secret and largely unbeknownst to humans. March brings the first spring peeper calls, more flowers, red-winged blackbirds, American woodcock and, finally, eastern phoebes, at the end of the month. March also brings the official start to spring, of course.


April starts off fairly slowly until the first pine warblers arrive. Then it’s warbler season! The problem is, pine warblers are three weeks to a month ahead of most of the other warblers and other colorful migratory songbirds. Palm warblers and yellow-rumped warblers are the exceptions as they closely follow the pines.

Those three weeks to a month can seem like an eternity. We’ve endured winter and have slowly gotten small teases of spring. Bring it on already! We jump Continue reading

Birds to brighten your day: May 4

Photo by Chris Bosak
A palm warbler rests on a wire fence in a backyard in New England, April 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake XIV

I spent most of the weekend working in the garden and putting a fence around a new plot I had dug a few weeks earlier. Having never put in a fence before, I was fairly happy with the results. Apparently, a palm warbler agreed as it perched on the fence less than an hour after I had completed the task. Gotta love warbler season.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Birds to brighten your day: April 30

Photo by Chris Bosak A yellow-rumped warbler hovers to get a treat from a feeder in Danbury, CT, April 2020. (Merganser Lake)

A Day on Merganser Lake XXI

The pine warblers swoop in and land on this apple-shaped feeder like it’s no problem. The yellow-rumped warblers, however, have difficulty and sometimes hover underneath it instead of landing on it. So I jacked up my ISO to freeze the action (at the cost of image quality) and got this shot of the yellow-rumped grabbing a suet nugget. The image at the bottom shows why it’s called a yellow-rumped warbler.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Photo by Chris Bosak A yellow-rumped warbler hovers to get a treat from a feeder in Danbury, CT, April 2020. (Merganser Lake)