A look back at winter birding article

Story in Special Places, the magazine of The Trustees
Story in Special Places, the magazine of The Trustees

With the year’s first major snowfall to hit New England over the next two days, here’s a look back at an article I did a few years ago for The Trustees, a Massachusetts-based conservation organization. Check out the group here to learn more about the good things it does.

Here’s a link to the story, if you can’t read the attached document.

Live was a flop, but here are some photos from today

Photo by Chris Bosak
A song sparrow takes shelter in an old Christmas tree during a snowfall in Danbury, Connecticut, February 2019.

My attempt to go live from my feeders today was, well, a learning experience. The video quality looked much better on my iPhone screen than how it translated onto the big screen next to me. Also, Facebook live makes you shoot vertically (not how you’re supposed to do it!) so the first several minutes appeared sideways. Who knew?

The birds were fairly cooperative during the 15-minute live shoot. A group of pine siskins covered the tube feeder while mourning doves, titmice, chickadees, goldfinches, juncos, downy woodpeckers, and white-breasted nuthatches visited the various other feeders. A song sparrow, an irregular visitor at my feeders anyway, also showed up and took seeds from the platform feeder.

What was somewhat expected but didn’t show up were blue jays, cardinals, and red-bellied woodpeckers.

I guess it’s time to look into a new camera capable of streaming live video. The iPhone just didn’t cut it – at least for this experiment. Thanks to those who did tune in. Next time will be better.

In the meantime, here are some more photos from the action Continue reading

For the Birds: Winter and birds

Here is the latest For the Birds column:

Photo by Chris Bosak A black-capped chickadee rests on an icy branch during a winter storm in Jan. 2019 in New England.

Winter poses serious challenges for birds and other wildlife.

The cold is the first thing that comes to mind. How do small birds such as chickadees and goldfinches survive sustained sub-zero temperatures? How do water birds such as gulls, ducks and geese stand on ice all day with bitter winds driving through them?

Birds that remain in New England all year have adapted to the low temperatures. Cold may be a challenge, but it’s one they can handle.

Chickadees and other birds have all sorts of adaptations to survive bitter cold days and nights. They increase their weight and fat percentage, they puff out their feathers to trap warm air close to their bodies, they huddle together for warmth, they drop their body temperature at night, and they eat a lot.

Water birds have an extra layer of down feathers to keep dry and toasty. Also, their legs don’t freeze because of a magical counter-current heat exchange between their veins and arteries. It’s not magic, of course, but it’s a complex system worthy of its own column. Let’s just say their feet don’t have to be as warm as their bodies (otherwise they’d be covered in feathers) and the way their blood flows keeps the legs from freezing.

So the cold, while uncomfortable on the most bitter nights, is usually Continue reading

Yet more icy bird photos

Photo by Chris Bosak
A white-breasted nuthatch perches on an icy branch, Danbury, Connecticut, January 2019.

Parts of southern New England remain encrusted in ice. It’s been several days since the snow-then-ice storm hit, but brutally cold weather followed to keep everything frozen. The beautiful ice-covered landscape will change soon, however, as the forecast calls for rain and temperatures in the 40s. In the meantime, I’ll keep taking and sharing bird photos with this icy backdrop.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A fox sparrow rests in icy branches, Danbury, Connecticut, January 2019.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A fish crow eats berries from a frozen bush, Danbury, Connecticut, January 2019.

This morning’s icy bird shots

Photo by Chris Bosak Downy woodpeckers on icy feeder, New England, Jan. 2019.

In southern Connecticut we woke up to a landscape covered in ice and a grand total of 1 degree Fahrenheit. I’m sure that seems like a heatwave compared to what those in northern New England experienced. But, hey, that’s why we love New England.

Here are a few shots from this morning (Monday, Jan. 21, 2019.)

Photo by Chris Bosak Icy birdfeeder in New England, Jan. 2019.
Photo by Chris Bosak Junco on icy branches in New England, Jan. 2019.