Birds to brighten your day: April 24

Photo by Chris Bosak
A black-capped chickadee checks out a birdhouse in a backyard in New England, April 2020. Merganser Lake.

A Day on Merganser Lake XV

Well, it doesn’t look like the bluebirds are going to nest in the bluebird box I got a few weeks ago. My property is not ideal habitat for them as it’s more wooded than open. At least they are still visiting every day and keeping me entertained. The good news is that black-capped chickadees keep checking it out. Hopefully a pair will decide to move in. They are not bluebirds but I’d certainly take it.

(Repeat text for context:  I’m running out of COVID-19 lockdown themes so from now until things get back to some semblance of normalcy, I will simply post my best photo from the previous day. You could say it fits because of its uncertainty and challenge. I’ll call the series “A Day on Merganser Lake,” even though that’s not the real name of the lake I live near in southwestern Connecticut, it’s just a nod to my favorite duck family.)

Photo by Chris Bosak
A black-capped chickadee checks out a birdhouse in a backyard in New England, April 2020. Merganser Lake.

Just a typical day in the backyard

Photo by Chris Bosak
A white-breasted nuthatch perches on a pole as a downy woodpecker eats suet from a feeder, New England 2019.

The word typical can have a negative connotation. It is usually used to describe something boring or mundane. Or worse, as a word of exasperation to draw attention to a recurring negative behavior: “Oh, that’s so typical of him.”

But I’m going to use typical in a positive way here. Yesterday, all the typical birds showed up at my feeder. And that’s a good thing. My ‘typicals’ include chickadees, titmice, white-breasted nuthatches, downy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and blue jays. You can throw juncos in there, too, in the winter. Other birds come from time to time, but those are the birds that are always there. Many people write to me about a lack of chickadees at their feeders lately. It’s definitely a trend to keep an eye on, but thankfully, I still have plenty of chickadees visiting my feeders.

Not that I’m boasting about my feeders. There are some obvious bird species that I hardly ever see. Cardinals, for whatever reason, are Continue reading

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