The 2018 birding year in review: Part V

Photo by Chris Bosak A male indigo bunting eats seeds from a platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., in May 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak A male indigo bunting eats seeds from a platform feeder in Danbury, Conn., in May 2018.

My latest For the Birds column releases my personal top 10 birding moments for 2018. Recapping the previous year is my favorite column to write each late December or early January. This year, instead of blasting out the top 10 all at once I’m going to spread it out and reveal two each day, starting today (Jan. 1, 2019.) This post will include Nos. 2 and 1. This is the finale!

Feel free to comment or send me an email with some of your 2018 birding or nature highlights.

Photo by Chris Bosak An indigo bunting visits a feeder in New England, spring 2018.
Photo by Chris Bosak An indigo bunting visits a feeder in New England, spring 2018.

2. Indigo bunting at feeder. I had two visit, actually. One was a male in a blotchy transition plumage and one was an adult male in its splendid bright blue coat. I knew these sought-after birds  visited feeders, but this was a first for me.

Gray jay on snowy bough in Pittsburg, N.H., Nov. 2018.

1. Gray jays. An early November trip to Pittsburg, N.H., yielded some interesting bird sightings, such as bald eagles, ruffed grouse, and an evening grosbeak. The highlight for sure, however, were several small groups of gray jays that ate seeds right from our hands.

Of course, the big highlight of the year was continuing to be able to share my outdoor adventures through this column and my website. Thanks for your support in 2018 and I can’t wait to see what 2019 has in store. Also, feel free to share your nature highlights of 2018. 

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The 2018 birding year in review: Part IV

Photo by Chris Bosak Male rose-breasted grosbeaks chase each other at a feeding stating in Danbury, Conn., May 2018.

My latest For the Birds column releases my personal top 10 birding moments for 2018. Recapping the previous year is my favorite column to write each late December or early January. This year, instead of blasting out the top 10 all at once I’m going to spread it out and reveal two each day, starting today (Jan. 1, 2019.) This post will include Nos. 4 and 3.

Feel free to comment or send me an email with some of your 2018 birding or nature highlights.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Bald Eaglea fies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn., Sept. 2016.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A Bald Eagle flies over Little Merganser Lake in Danbury, Conn.

4. Rise of the bald eagle. I continue to hear of several new bald eagle nests throughout New England. My own personal sightings have greatly increased as well. The comeback is not on par with the osprey success story yet, but it’s nice to see that our national symbol appears to be trending upwards.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., May 2016.
Photo by Chris Bosak
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn.

3. Two male rose-breasted grosbeaks at feeder. I’m happy enough when one of these beauties visits, but one day in early May two of them shared a hopper feeder. “Shared” is a bit of a stretch as they spend most of their time bickering and chasing each other around.

The difference between Hairy Woodpecker and Downy Woodpecker, snow style

I’ve done similar posts before comparing the larger Hairy Woodpecker with the smaller Downy Woodpecker. But I’ll repeat the lesson as I captured them both on a homemade birdfeeder during Thursday’s snowstorm.

The hairy is larger overall, but without a reference it’s tough to tell strictly by size. To really determine the species, check out the bill. The hairy has a much more substantial bill. Females of each species are shown.

Photo by Chris Bosak A hairy woodpecker eats bark butter out of a homemade feeder in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 9, 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A hairy woodpecker eats bark butter out of a homemade feeder in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 9, 2017.


Photo by Chris Bosak A downy woodpecker eats bark butter out of a homemade feeder in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 9, 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A downy woodpecker eats bark butter out of a homemade feeder in Danbury, Conn., Feb. 9, 2017.

Love this White-breasted Nuthatch photo

Photo by Chris Bosak White-breasted Nuthatch at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
White-breasted Nuthatch at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

Sometimes when photographing birds (or anything for that matter) you never really know what you’ll get. You should always be mindful of the background, but sometimes it’s tough to determine exactly how the photo will look until you take it. Honestly I got kind of lucky with this shot with the jet black background, which really makes the White-breasted Nuthatch standout. I’m not even sure what in the background was so black. Oh well, I’ll take it.

This is the third in a series of photographs celebrating our common backyard feeder birds.

Gray Jay: Friendly bird of the northern woods

Photo by Chris Bosak A Gray Jay perches on a branch near a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Gray Jay perches on a branch near a pond in northern New Hampshire, Oct. 2014.

Gray Jays are quickly becoming one of my favorite birds. Their range does not stretch into southern New England, but on my last several trips to northern New England, I’ve seen these handsome and friendly birds. I have been visiting the northern reaches of New Hampshire for more than 20 years now and I started seeing Gray Jays only in the last few years. They appear out of nowhere and offer close views. They seem to be as curious about you as you are about them. From what I’ve seen, they hang out in small flocks (3, 4 or 5 birds.) Gray Jays are one of those boreal species that makes the Great North Woods so special. I took the above photo while canoeing on a small pond in northern New Hampshire. This one flew right up to the pond’s edge to check me out.

 

5 New England ‘poster birds’ for climate change

Photo by Chris Bosak Bobolink

Photo by Chris Bosak
Bobolink

In response to the recently released State of the Birds 2014 report, Patrick Comins, the director of bird conservation with Audubon Connecticut, spoke about the 5 “poster birds” that will be most affected by climate change and the accompanying shifts in bird population. He was speaking specifically about Connecticut, but certainly all of New England will see this impact.

Comins spoke during a telephone conference to journalists on Wednesday.

Here are the birds he picked:

Saltmarsh Sparrow: Currently breeds in Connecticut, but has difficulty with rising sea levels and high tides. Rising tides will only become worse over the next several decades.

Bobolink: This meadow nester will likely not nest or be seen often in Connecticut over the next several decades.

Dunlin: This handsome shorebird currently nests and may be seen throughout winter along the New England coast. It’s nesting ability in Connecticut, as Comins put it, will “become zero.” It will move its range north and perhaps New England will get some winter views of this bird.

Blue-winged Warbler: This handsome bright yellow warbler will “move up and out.”

Veery: Comins almost picked the Wood Thrush for his final bird, but chose the Veery. It will become scarce in New England.

The phrase “over the next several decades” may give some people cause to relax and think “I’ll never notice it” or “maybe things will change.” But the “next several decades” will be here before we know it. There have been staggering declines in bird populations over the last 40 years. We’re talking some species dropping in number by 50, 60 even 80 percent. That’s just the last 40 years. That’s basically yesterday evolutionarily speaking. Jeez, I can remember 40 years ago. It bothers me to think this decline all happened in my lifetime.

Hopefully the State of the Birds report will get the attention it deserves and affect positive change for birds and all wildlife.

The full report may be found here.

Love those bluebirds (plenty of photos)

Photo by Chris Bosak Eastern Bluebird at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Eastern Bluebird at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust.

Eastern Bluebirds are nesting again at Mather Meadows, a property of the Darien (Conn.) Land Trust. Here are some photos I took during a quick visit on Tuesday morning. (More photos below — click on “continue reading.”)

Eastern Bluebirds have made a strong comeback following a decline due to several factors, including competition for nesting sites with introduced species such as House Sparrows and European Starlings. The comeback has been bolstered in large part to humans offering nesting sites to bluebirds, a.k.a bluebird houses. The houses are built to specific dimensions, including the entry/exit hole sized to keep out sparrows and starlings. Bluebirds still face competition for those homes from Tree Sparrows, but the competition is not as fierce.

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