Christmas Bird Count photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A northern shoveler swims on the Norwalk River in New England, December 2020.

It was a gray day that turned into a snowy day that turned into a misty, gray day. The weather never fails to be part of the story of a Christmas Bird Count (CBC) in New England. Yesterday (Sunday) was the annual CBC in my area and, as usual, I covered the Norwalk (Conn.) coastline and parts inland with Frank Mantlik, one of Connecticut”s top birders. We tallied 61 species, which will be combined with the other birds spotted by the Count’s other teams. Highlights included northern shoveler, northern pintail, prairie warbler, pine warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, northern harrier, merlin and horned lark. Full story coming in my For the Birds column. In the meantime, here’s what the Christmas Bird Count is all about.

Photo by Chris Bosak A red-tailed hawk perches on the top of a pine tree in New England, December 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A prairie warbler perches on a cement barrier at a waste water treatment center in New England, December 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A northern pintail drake swims in a pool of water with Canada geese in New England, December 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A northern shoveler swims on the Norwalk River in New England, December 2020.

A few more snowy bird photos

Photo by Chris Bosak A pair of Carolina wrens visit a platform feeder in New England, December 2020.

Parts of New England got varying degrees of snow during this week’s storm. I got about a foot of the white stuff, but I’ve heard from friends throughout the region of much more and much less. At any rate, the birds came out to eat during and after the storm. Here’s proof.

Photo by Chris Bosak A dark-eyed junco eats a berry following a snowstorm in New England, December 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A black-capped chickadee visits to a New England backyard, December 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A dark-eyed junco eats a berry following a snowstorm in New England, December 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A pair of Carolina wrens visit a platform feeder in New England, December 2020.

Junco eats berry in the snow. More snow photos to come

Photo by Chris Bosak A dark-eyed junco eats a berry following a snowstorm in New England, December 2020.

Here’s just the start to the bird photos taken during the snowstorm that blanketed New England on Wednesday and Thursday.

Prepping for the storm

Photo by Chris Bosak A Carolina wren visits to a New England bird-feeding station, December 2020.

New England is bracing for a major snowstorm on Wednesday evening and into Thursday. In the meantime, we got a little preview on Monday with a coating of snow. Here are some shots from Monday with thoughts for better snow photos coming soon. Feel free to send your snowy bird photos to birdsofnewengland@gmail.com and I’ll include them on the Reader Submitted Photos page.

Photo by Chris Bosak A red-breasted nuthatch visits to a New England bird-feeding station, December 2020.

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For the Birds: More traditional gifts for your birder

Photo by Chris Bosak A spotting scope will help birders pick out ducks, like this northern pintail drake.

Last week I offered some suggestions on donating to conservation organizations to help out these important groups during this season of giving. Many of these organizations are hurting this year due to the cancellation of so many revenue-producing programs.

This week, I’ll offer some tips on getting more traditional holiday gifts for your birder. A gift list for birdwatchers has to start with optics. Technically, no equipment is needed to go birdwatching. You can simply head to the woods or look out your window and scan for birds. Realistically, however, you need a few essentials, namely binoculars and a field guide. If you have a budding birdwatcher on your list, an inexpensive pair will likely suffice. More experienced birders will appreciate better-quality optics.

With optics, as with most things, you get what you pay for. A $15 pair of binoculars will serve you just fine, but a $150 pair will seem like a different world. A really great pair of binoculars will set you back hundreds of dollars, but they will last Continue reading

Good winter for red-breasted nuthatches

Photo by Chris Bosak A red-breasted nuthatch visits to a New England bird-feeding station, December 2020.

Based on emails I have received and bird reports I have read, it has been a good fall/winter to see red-breasted nuthatches throughout the region. This one has been hanging around my house for the last several days. Have you had any luck seeing this small bird Continue reading

For the Birds: Giving back to nature

Photo by Chris Bosak Monarch, Brookfield, CT, summer 2019.

It’s the season of giving, and this year nonprofit organizations need your support more than ever.

COVID-19 changed everything. Aside from the horrendous physical toll it has taken on so many, businesses have closed and many people are struggling to make ends meet. Nonprofit organizations are not immune to this downturn. Those that specialize in land conservation or nature are just as impacted as the rest of them.

Many of these organizations rely on programming, events, summer camps or other activities that require people to be in close proximity to each other to help pay the bills. COVID put a hard stop on that. As a result, these organizations are out the revenue that these events would have brought in. Many have turned to virtual events, but they don’t have the Continue reading

Hey there, stranger

Photo by Chris Bosak A downy woodpecker grabs a seed and looks at a coffee mug bearing a drawing of a white-breasted nuthatch in New England, fall 2020.

A fun bird photo to get you in the holiday spirit.

For the Birds: The way birds eat

Photo by Chris Bosak A blue jay positions a second suet nugget from a platform feeder, Danbury, Conn., March 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak A blue jay positions a second suet nugget from a platform feeder, Danbury, Conn., March 2018.

I received an interesting email the other day from a reader who witnessed a fascinating behavior at her bird feeder recently.

Margaret from East Alstead wrote about her blue jays stuffing several sunflower seeds in their mouths and bills before flying off. “A jay landed and proceeded to pick up seeds at a great rate. He left in a bit, but he really had my attention. When he returned I started counting. He took in 25 before departing. Subsequent counting came up with a similar number.”

Blue jays, like many other birds, will cache seeds and nuts for future use. Blue jays have an expandable pouch, or crop, in their esophagus that allows them to hold great Continue reading