Birds to brighten your day: April 27

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

A Day on Merganser Lake XVIII

Here’s a solo shot of the yellow-rumped warbler. Warblers aren’t known as feeder birds, but I’ve had three yellow-rumpeds and at least two pine warblers all over my suet feeders the last few days. Warblers are small, often colorful birds that winter in parts south and migrate north each spring. Some nest in New England and some pass through New England on their way farther north.

(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 23

Photo by Chris Bosak A palm warbler looks for food on the ground in a yard in Danbury, Connecticut, April 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake XIV

I’ve been seeing palm warblers around my yard for about a week now. They are fairly brave as they sometimes approach closely in their search for food. They remain tricky photo subjects, however, because, like most warblers, they are constantly in motion. I got a decent shot of this bird as it hopped along a rocky area of my side yard yesterday.

Palm warblers are usually the second warbler to arrive in New England in the spring, following the pine warbler. Palm warblers are tail-pumpers so if you see a small, yellow bird with a rusty cap sitting on a branch pumping its tail, it’s a palm 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.)

For the Birds: Warbler season already

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pine warbler visits a backyard in New England, April 2020, Merganser Lake.

Another quick, one-day break from the A Day on Merganser Lake photo series to bring you the latest For the Birds column …

Could it be warbler season already?

It sure is and I’m just as surprised as the next person. Not that the first week of April is unusual for the early warblers to arrive; it’s right on time.

Still, I was surprised when I looked up and saw a pine warbler perched at the top of my bird-feeder pole system the other day. I wasn’t ready for it. In a normal year, I’d be counting down the days until the first warblers arrived. But this is no normal year. I think we can all agree on that.

Like many others, I’m sure, I’ve been consumed with COVID-19, or coronavirus. It’s on the news 24/7. Grocery stores have one-way aisles, most people are wearing masks and the cashiers are wearing face shields. My work (thankfully I am still working) is busier than ever due to the virus and the days start earlier and end later than ever.

No sports. No concerts. No parties. Heck, no talking to your Continue reading

Birds to brighten your day: April 10

Photo by Chris Bosak
A pine warbler visits a backyard in New England, April 2020, Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake III

Back-to-back pine warblers in the early stages of my “best photo from yesterday” series. As long as the pine warblers (there are at least four of them) keep visiting my suet and mealworm feeders, it’s going to be tough to not consider them my best photo. We’ll see what tomorrow brings, though.

Thanks for checking out BirdsofNewEngland.com as we get through this crisis together.

(Repeat text:  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.)

Back to back For the Birds columns

Here are the last two For the Birds columns, mostly focused on what readers have been seeing this spring.

Photo by Chris Bosak A male indigo bunting eats seeds from a platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., in May 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak A male indigo bunting eats seeds from a platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., in May 2018.

If the past season was the Winter of the barred owl, this is the spring of the indigo bunting.

I’ve heard from numerous readers and friends throughout New England and even Canada about this bright blue bird visiting their backyards. The cause for excitement is obvious as it is one of our more colorful birds, flashing a brilliant blue plumage. The brilliance of the blue plumage is dependent upon the light.

It is also nice to hear that so many of these birds are around and delighting backyard birders in large numbers. Rose-breasted grosbeaks are another popular bird this spring. I’ve had limited luck with indigo buntings this spring, but for me, it’s been a banner year for rose-breasted grosbeaks. I’ve seen as many as three males in a tree overhanging my feeders. A female visits the feeders often as well.

It’s also been a good spring for warblers and nearly every walk last week yielded yellow warblers, common yellowthroats, black-and-white warblers, chestnut-sided warblers, American redstarts and yellow-rumped warblers.

I’m not the only birdwatcher enjoying a productive spring. Here’s what Continue reading

Warbler Week: Black-and-white warbler

Photo by Chris Bosak
A black-and-white warbler seen in Ridgefield, Conn., May 2019.

The black-and-white warbler is another common warbler in New England. Black-and-white warblers are one of the few warblers often seen on tree trunks. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, they have an extra hind claw that helps them cling to trunks. They are also often heard and not spotted, especially when the leaves are fully out in our New England woods. Listen for the high-pitched squeaky wheel song. Some song descriptions are of little help, but this warbler sounds exactly like a squeaky wheel. The black-and-white warbler is not a colorful warbler (obviously) but it’s a striking bird regardless with its striped plumage.

Warbler Week: Common yellowthroat

Photo by Chris Bosak
A common yellowthroat perches on a branch in Ridgefield, Conn., May 2019.

Aside from the yellow warbler, the common yellowthroat is perhaps New England’s most common and widespread warbler. The male is a handsome bird with a thin white “forehead,” thick black face mask and bright yellow throat and underparts. The rest of the body is olive and tan. Females are mostly olive and tan with a yellow throat. The loud “witchety-witchety-witchety” song often accompanies birders on spring and early summer walks. Yellowthroats prefer shrubby habitat and are usually found low in this habitat.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Female common yellowthroat

Warbler Week: Ovenbird

Photo by Chris Bosak
An ovenbird sings from a perch in Ridgefield, Conn., May 2019.

The ovenbird’s “teacher, teacher, teacher” song is often the dominant sound in the New England woods during spring and summer. It is a loud and piercing song, but it is often difficult to find the source. The ovenbird is small (it is a warbler after all) and well-camouflaged bird. It resembles a thrush with its overall brownish plumage and spotted chest but it also has an orange crown flanked by two dark streaks. The ovenbird, which is named for the shape of its ground nest, is often found walking along the forest floor. It will sing from the ground or from a perch in the woods making it that much more difficult to find.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An ovenbird sings from a perch in Ridgefield, Conn., May 2019.

Warbler Week: American redstart

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American redstart perches in a tree in Ridgefield, Conn., May 2019.

The American redstart is a dynamic-looking little bird with black and orange plumage. While the Baltimore oriole is predominately orange with black and white, the redstart is mostly black with orange markings on its sides, wings and outer tail edges. The redstart, of course, is also much smaller than an oriole. Redstarts are common throughout New England in brushy areas near woods. You’ll probably hear its high-pitched, rather non-musical song before seeing the handsome bird. Females and young redstarts are similarly patterned to males, but gray and yellow instead of black and orange.

Here’s the female …

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American redstart perches in a tree in Ridgefield, Conn., May 2019.

Warbler Week: Chestnut-sided warbler

Photo by Chris Bosak
A chestnut-sided warbler in Hardwick, Mass., May 2019.

I found this guy flitting among the low branches in the woods near my son Andrew’s school lacrosse field last weekend. I had an hour to kill before the game started and, of course, took a little walk in the woods. Towhees and ovenbirds provided the musical backdrop when this guy appeared right in front of me. The chestnut-sided warbler has always been one of my favorites ever since I saw my first one more than 20 years ago in Keene, N.H.

Chestnut-sided warblers breed throughout New England and nearby Canada. They winter in mixed flocks in Central America.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A chestnut-sided warbler in Hardwick, Mass., May 2019.