This Red-tailed Hawk perched in the backyard during a recent steamy day in southern New England. I like the way it is showing its feathers while perched on the top of a recently cut-down tree.
You all did so well on the last “find the bird” quiz, that I figured I’d give you another one. This one, I have to say, is much more difficult with its two distinct sides of the photo (a dry side and wet side.)
I grabbed this photo of a Least Sandpiper while volunteering to monitor Piping Plovers and Least Terns at Coastal Center at Milford Point in Milford, CT. It demonstrates the challenges birdwatchers have when it comes to finding and identifying shorebirds. It’s no wonder why so many people refer to them all simply at “peeps.” The camouflage is remarkable. The eggs laid by shorebirds are even more amazingly camo’d.
More importantly, it demonstrates how well their coloration and markings make it difficult for predators, such as Peregrine Falcons, to spot them.
So good luck in finding the bird. As a small hint, the bird is small in the photo, but not impossible to find. I’ll post the answer in a few days. If you can’t wait and need more hints, drop me a line at email@example.com
If you missed the last one — in which a Piping Plover was hidden in the photo — here it is.
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The Gray Catbird is very aptly named because, well, it’s mostly gray and often sounds like a cat. I say mostly gray because it has a small black cap on its head and has rusty red undertail coverts. That red patch is not seen very often and many casual observers of birds probably don’t even know the Gray Catbird has that patch of red.
Undertail coverts are the area of a bird under the tail and behind the legs. The photo above shows this catbird’s patch of rusty red.
With the spring migration season starting to wind down, much of New England will be left with only its breeding birds to watch for a few months. Thankfully, the charismatic Gray Catbird is among them.
Click “continue reading” for a catbird’s closeup.
Here’s another warbler photo taken this weekend at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien.
Last week I had a post with several warbler species included. The Common Yellowthroat was not included in that post, but I found a fairly cooperative one this weekend. Yellowthroats can be tricky to photograph because they are usually hidden among thick brush, often near wetlands.
On Saturday, I led a bird walk with a great group of people and we saw 10 warbler species, in addition to several other types of birds, such as vireos, egrets and thrushes. The warbler season in New England is still in full swing. Let me know what you’re seeing out there, send photos and sightings to firstname.lastname@example.org
While doing my weekly volunteer shorebird monitoring at Coastal Center at Milford Point, I came across a surprise bird on the beach. A White-winged Scoter, usually a bird I see in the distance on the waters of Long Island Sound during the winter, was sitting on the beach with dozens of little (in comparison) shorebirds.
It was an odd scene to see the scoter resting on the beach as Ruddy Turnstones, Dunlin and Semipalmated Plovers scampered all around it.
Scoters are large sea ducks. Three types are seen along the New England coast: Surf; Black; and White-winged.
The day also included sightings of Peregrine Falcon (a young one sitting on the beach), Least Terns, Brant, American Oystercatcher, Piping Plover, Lesser Yellowlegs, and other shorebirds.
The New England spring warbler season is upon us in a big way and my favorite hang out, Selleck’s Dunlap Woods in Darien, Conn., is no exception. On Sunday, I counted 11 warbler species — with huge numbers of Black-and-white Warlbers and Black-throated Green Warblers — in addition to plenty of Baltimore Orioles, Gray Catbirds, and two vireo species.
Warblers are small, often colorful songbirds that winter in Central or South America and return to New England and points north each spring to breed. The spring warbler season is the highlight of the year for many birdwatchers.
It was a good day photographically, too, as I was able to get some decent shots for the first time of several species. So here, in no particular order, are a slew of spring migrant songbird photos — all taken either Sunday, May 4, or Monday, May 5.
I will be leading a walk from 7:30 to 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 10, at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods. It is presented by the Darien Land Trust and open to all. Hope to see you there.
Lots more photos below. Click “continue reading.”
Yes, European Starlings are overpopulated, outcompete native species for nesting sites, take over birdfeeding stations, destroy crops and really don’t belong in the United States in the first place, but … they sure can be a handsome bird in the breeding season, especially if the light hits them just right.
Starlings look markedly different from one season to the next. Their breeding plumage, seen above, features an array of dots, lines and colors, such as green, purple, blue and, of course, black.
I don’t often have good things to say about European Starlings, but this visitor to my feeder this morning at least temporarily softened my stance.
The story about how starlings ended up in the United States in the first place is very interesting. Here it is, from Wild Birds Unlimited:
“The European Starling was introduced into North America when the “American Acclimatization Society” for European settlers released some 80-100 birds in Central Park (New York City) in 1890-91. The head of this particular organization, Eugene Scheiffelin, desired to introduce all birds ever mentioned in the works of William Shakespeare.”
Typically a Pine Warbler is my first warbler of the spring, followed closely by a Palm Warbler. This year, with my time in the woods being limited by work and volunteer efforts monitoring shorebirds, I didn’t see my first warblers until April 24 in Selleck’s Woods in Darien, Conn.
Those warblers were Yellow-rumped Warblers, in their nice shiny, spring plumage. I see yellow-rumpeds a lot in the fall in their duller autumn plumage. It was nice to get the warbler season started, especially with a colorful one like the yellow-rumped. Hopefully the first of many.
What are you seeing out there? Comment or email me to let me know.
I’ve always liked Killdeer. They depend on large, flat open spaces to lay their eggs. As that habitat disappears, Killdeer have proven to be very resourceful. I’ve seen Killdeer nests (really just a small depression in the ground) in places such as parking lots, ball fields and cemeteries. These guys I photographed this week at a cemetery in Darien. I have plenty of Killdeer shots already, but I couldn’t resist.
To add in one fact about Killdeer to make this post at least a little informative — they are one of the species that will use the “broken wing” tactic to keep predators away from their eggs and young. As a predator (or unwitting human) approaches the nest, the parent will walk away from the eggs to divert the attention. To keep the interest of the predator the adult Killdeer will pretend it has a broken wing and limp along the ground. When the predator is sufficiently away from the nest, the adult will fly away, leaving the predator dumbfounded and hungry.
One more quick fact: Killdeer are shorebirds, and are indeed found along the shore at times, but are usually found far from the shore.
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It’s not often that I see Northern Mockingbirds at my feeders. I see them often enough, just not at the feeders. But for the past week or so, a pair of mockers have been regular visitors to the suet cake feeder. They split time with a pair of Downy Woodpeckers that has been visiting all winter.
Mockingbirds will begin their incredible singing performances soon. They will perch somewhere (often a very conspicuous spot) and sing their hearts out, going over their repertoire over and over. As its name suggests, the song is a long string of other birds’ calls. Personally, I always hear mockers include the Carolina Wren’s “tea kettle” song in their mix.
Have a mockingbird story? Feel free to comment. Thanks for visiting http://www.birdsofnewengland.com