Latest For the Birds column: Chickadees, scarce or not?

Photo by Chris Bosak Ablack-capped chickadee grabs a sunflower seed from a Christmas decoration during the winter of 2016-17 in Danbury, Conn.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A black-capped chickadee grabs a sunflower seed from a Christmas decoration during the winter of 2016-17 in Danbury, Conn.

Where are the chickadees?

That question has been on the minds of many concerned birders this winter. I’ve been lucky enough to see a few at my feeding stations, but not great numbers. Consistent numbers, but not big numbers.

Titmice? Those I’ve seen in consistently high numbers. Nuthatches and the downy woodpecker — also consistent and high. 

But chickadees have been harder to come by. As I said, I’m one of the lucky ones. I’ve at least seen a few. Many people have written to me to say they’ve not seen any.

“What has happened to these birds?” one reader asked.

Another reader noted a general drop in bird numbers, but: “The biggest absence seems to be chickadees. … In all previous winters I would be inundated with chickadees and nuthatches. This winter: zero nuthatches, and only one or two chickadees at the feeder. I used to have more of them than there was room to perch!”

Chickadees are a beloved bird in New England and Continue reading

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Latest For the Birds column: Robins and spring

Photo by Chris Bosak An American Robin perches on a rock at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., in Jan. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An American Robin perches on a rock at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., in Jan. 2015.

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.

Nor’easters and pending snowfalls aside, spring is knocking on the door.

The robins are back. That has to mean spring, right? Aren’t robins the traditional harbinger of spring?

Well, yes and no. Yes, they are the traditional harbinger of spring by manner of conventional wisdom, but, no, because some robins have remained in New England all winter.

A number of robins spend their winters in New England, Continue reading

A shot from the storm: Cardinal in snow

Photo by Chris Bosak A northern cardinal eats seeds from a feeder during a snow storm, March 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A northern cardinal eats seeds from a feeder during a snow storm, March 2018.

Here’s one shot from today’s nor’easter that hit parts of New England hard. Here in Danbury, Connecticut, we got socked with over a foot of heavy snow. The day started out calmly enough, but around 3 or 4 p.m., the heavy stuff started falling and accumulating FAST. I got this cardinal before things got out of hand. Hopefully, there will be more shots to follow.

 

Preening away II

Here are a few more preening photos to go along with my last For the Birds column post. Click here in case you missed it.

Photo by Chris Bosak A yellow-crowned night heron preens in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A yellow-crowned night heron preens in Norwalk, Conn., summer 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Piping Plover preens at Milford Point in spring of 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Piping Plover preens on the beach at Milford Point, Conn., in April 2014.

For the Birds column: Preening away

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-tailed hawk preens at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., January 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-tailed hawk preens at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., January 2015.

I thought my cat was bad. The incessant licking to keep himself clean. He’s got to be the cleanest cat ever.

Then I watched a northern mockingbird preening itself. It went on for as long as I could watch and who knows how much longer after I walked away.

Feather maintenance is an important part of life for birds and it takes up a great amount of their time. Feathers play a role in a bird’s ability to fly, attract a mate, hide from predators and protect itself from the weather. Birds are the only living creatures with Continue reading

Latest For the Birds column: Tale of two birdwatching days

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Snow Bunting at Norwalk’s Calf Pasture Beach, March 26, 2013.

I had two very different birdwatching experiences on consecutive days recently. Both of them were great, of course, but very, very different.

Let’s start with a Wednesday outing. I had some rare time to myself, so I was going somewhere. I didn’t care how cold it was outside, I was getting out of the house.

I had read the previous day on the Connecticut Rare Bird Alert Web site that short-eared owls were being seen at Silver Sands State Park in Milford. I’ve never had much luck finding owls, but figured I’d give it a shot. Maybe this was the day my luck would change. Snowy owls are being seen in larger-than-normal numbers this year, too, so my chances were doubled.

Armed with a heavy winter coat, hat and oversized dorky mittens, Continue reading

Great work by The Trustees on this magazine story

Story in Special Places, the magazine of The Trustees

Story in Special Places, the magazine of The Trustees

Kudos to the layout team at Special Places, the magazine of the The Trustees of Reservations, a Massachusetts conservation organization with many terrific lands under its care. I was asked to write a story on winter birdwatching, which of course I accepted. The editorial and layout team did a great job of packaging the story and making the story look great. (All of the photos are mine, too, except for the nice shot of the snowy owl, which was taken by Ryan Pennesi.)

I know this photo of the layout makes the story close to impossible to read (if not impossible). The text will be available soon at the website of The Trustees. Check out what this great organization has been up to at www.thetrustees.org.