More and more siskins

Photo by Chris Bosak Pine siskins visit a feeder in Danbury, Connecticut, fall 2018.

It started out as two yesterday morning. Now there are more than 20 pine siskins at my backyard feeding station in Danbury, Conn. That’s often the way it goes with these winter finches: The visits start with a few birds and they multiply and eat the host out of house and home. Not that I’m complaining …

Every perch on the hopper is filled and the rest are on a nearby hopper feeder or on the ground. They are eating Nyjer and sunflower seeds. 

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Siskin irruption hits home — finally

Photo by Chris Bosak A pine siskin eats Nyjer seeds at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., fall 2018.

After reading about pine siskins being seen throughout New England for several weeks, I woke up this morning to three of them at my feeding station. Pine siskins are one of the winter finches that irrupt from the north into New England and points south in sporadic winters. (Related post may be found here.)

Pine Siskins are often confused with goldfinches because they look fairly similar and prefer Nyjer (or thistle) seeds. Siskins are a bit larger, more sleek, more streaked and have a longer, pointed bill. The heavy streaking, especially on the sides, and yellow wing and tail markings are the best clues to differentiate the species. The male siskins have more prominent yellow markings. 

So today I celebrate that the siskins have arrived. The birds, however, have a very healthy appetite and Nyjer seed is not cheap, so we’ll see how I feel if their numbers multiply. I’m sure I’ll continue to be inspired by their presence. After all, it’s been about 10 years since I was a part of one of their irruptions. I think I can splurge once a decade on them. 

Here is a photo of them with goldfinches. Note the differences in plumage. The goldfinch is on the lower right. 

Photo by Chris Bosak Pine siskins visit a feeder in Danbury, Connecticut, fall 2018.

For the Birds: Fox sparrows back in force

Photo by Chris Bosak
A fox sparrow perches on the snow in Danbury, Conn., Nov. 16, 2018.

Here is the latest For the Birds column: 

Last week I wrote about winter finches and how birds that aren’t even finches can easily be lumped into that broad category.

I mentioned a few examples and, of course, as soon as I hit the “send” button, an example that I failed to mention showed up in my backyard. It was a fox sparrow. Well, more specifically, two fox sparrows.

Fox sparrows aren’t finches, naturally, they are sparrows, just as their name suggests. But because they are small (relative to all birds) and show up at feeders throughout New England sporadically during certain winters, I think they can be mentioned under the very broad and nonspecific category of winter finches.

Winter finches, just to review quickly, are the northern birds that show up at New England feeders some winters, only to not be seen again for several years. Pine siskin is the prime example and this year seems to be another good year for siskins. Continue reading

Connecticut’s State of the Birds 2018

Photo by Chris Bosak A Snowy Owl sits on an old telephone pole at The Coastal Center at Milford Point in early March 2014. Smoke stacks in Bridgeport loom in the background.

Here’s the 2018 State of the Birds report from the Connecticut Audubon Society. (Press release shamelessly copy/pasted here.)

November 29, 2018 — For the scores of migratory and nesting bird species in Connecticut to survive and thrive, the state’s cities and suburbs must create, maintain, and improve their local habitats in everything from small neighborhood parks to larger nature preserves.

That’s the key finding of the Connecticut Audubon Society’s 2018 State of the Birds report, released today at a news conference at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven.

Titled “In Cities and Suburbs: A Fresh Look at How Birds Are Surviving in Connecticut,” the report shows how the state’s most heavily-developed areas are crucial to the survival of the state’s and the region’s birds. Some of the most vulnerable species nest in Continue reading

Deer jumps over guard rail

Photo by Chris Bosak A white-tailed deer seen at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn., fall 2018.

I was hoping to come up with a more exciting headline for this post, but alas, I gave up before inspiration hit me. Besides, the headline kind of says it all.

Here’s a series of photos showing a white-tailed deer buck leaping over a guard rail dividing the access road to Sherwood Island State Park in Westport. I saw the deer walking across the road and figured, why not, let’s document him jumping over the barrier. The obvious unanswered question is: Why did it cross the road? (Sorry, bad joke.)

Here’s the entire series:

Photo by Chris Bosak A white-tailed deer seen at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn., fall 2018.

Continue reading

Not just birds out there

Photo by Chris Bosak A white-tailed deer seen at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn., fall 2018.

The name of this site may be birdsofnewengland.com and the hobby may be called birding, but most birdwatchers, myself included, are always on the lookout for any type of wildlife. In fact, my interest in this hobby got its start by my fascination with a non-bird wildlife species: moose.

Some of the interesting non-bird wildlife frequently encountered while roaming New England’s woods, fields and bodies of water include beaver, mink, otter, muskrat, and fisher — just to name a few. Oh, and white-tailed deer, of course. In some areas of New England, such as southwestern Connecticut, deer are so plentiful they are seen as pests by some residents. In most areas of the region, they are revered as the magnificent animals they are.

I came across this handsome fellow the other day while looking for birds at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport, Conn.

A few more northern shoveler photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A northern shoveler seen at 14-Acre Pond in Norwalk, Conn., fall 2018.

You didn’t think I’d post only one full photo of a northern shoveler, did you? Here are a few more. I tried digiscoping for one of the first times, so the quality of the photos are not great. I’ll keep practicing that skill.

Great-looking bird, regardless. Here’s more info on the northern shoveler, from AllAboutBirds.org

Photo by Chris Bosak A northern shoveler seen at 14-Acre Pond in Norwalk, Conn., fall 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak A northern shoveler seen at 14-Acre Pond in Norwalk, Conn., fall 2018.