For the Birds: Spring feeding and purple martins

Purple martins with dragonflies.

I don’t see a lot of press releases now that journalism is no longer my full-time profession, but I did receive a few last week that caught my eye.

One was from Cole’s Wild Bird Products and the other from the Purple Martin Conservation Association. The topics were very different but did have one important commonality: spring.

Cole’s, which makes a red-hot blend that I’ve used and the birds loved, sent some spring bird-feeding tips. Many people stop feeding birds in the spring for a variety of reasons, including bears and not wanting birds to become dependent upon feeders, but I’m a big fan of spring bird feeding. It’s a great way to get close, long looks at birds such as grosbeaks, orioles, buntings and even a few warbler species if you’re lucky.

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Feeder birds with New England fall backdrop

Photo by Chris Bosak A red-bellied woodpecker perches on a log and grabs a peanut in New England, October 2020.

There’s nothing like a New England fall, especially when it provides a colorful backdrop for bird photos. I found a rotted log in my backyard, positioned it on my deck railing in front of a small sassafras tree, sprinkled some sunflower seeds and peanuts on the log and enjoyed the show. It was nonstop action for hours. I hope to make a video soon as well.

Photo by Chris Bosak A tufted titmouse perches on a log in New England, October 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A blue jay perches on a log in New England, October 2020.
Photo by Chris Bosak A blue jay perches on a log and grabs a peanut in New England, October 2020.

Splendidly iridescent grackle

Photo by Chris Bosak
A common grackle visits a feeder in New England, October 2020.

I know some people get overrun by grackles, but I hardly ever see them at my feeders. When two showed up on a recent sunny day, I was able to capture the brilliant colors of their iridescent plumage. Grackles are blackbirds, but when the sun hits them just right, they are also green, blue and purple.

Ballerina catbird

Photo by Chris Bosak
A gray catbird perches on a branch in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

This gray catbird struck a rather interesting pose the other day. Catbirds are one of the great characters of the bird world.

Photo by Chris Bosak A gray catbird perches on a branch in New England, May 2020. Merganser Lake.

Birds to brighten your day: Bird Quiz III

Relatively easy one today. Here’s a big hint too … what is showing in the photo is not often seen but is part of the bird’s name. Thanks for playing along.

Here’s yesterday’s answer, and yes, someone got it right, so you’re 2-for-2 so far.

Here’s yesterday’s photo:

Here’s a few frames prior …

Those who guessed black-capped chickadee were right!

Here’s today’s photo again …

Birds to brighten your day: Bird Quiz 1

I’m going to shift themes again. I’ve already covered social distancing and cleanliness, now I will tackle the uncertainty aspect of coronavirus. I am not using coronavirus as an overarching theme to make light of this crisis, but rather to highlight the indomitable human spirit and bring a bit of levity to these trying days.

Therefore, with this post I kick off a run of Birding Quiz posts. I’ll reveal the answers in the next day’s post. Thanks for playing along and for supporting BirdsofNewEngland.com.

The first question is: What is in the above photo?

Hummingbirds return to New England

Photo by Chris Bosak A male ruby-throated hummingbird visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., spring 2018.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A male ruby-throated hummingbird visits a feeder in Danbury, Conn., spring 2018.

I saw my first hummingbird of the year about 10 days ago. It paid my feeder a quick visit in the morning and I never saw it again. He must have been on his way northward and stopped for a quick pitstop. But now, the hummingbirds are back for real. A male has been visiting my feeder about every 20 minutes for the last three days. A few times it had to fight off a few rivals to keep its territory. Hummingbirds are small and cute, but fiercely territorial.

Here’s a shot a took over weekend. Welcome back.

Celebrating Vulture Week, part 5

Photo by Chris Bosak Black vultures sit on a hill in Danbury, Conn., fall 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Black vultures sit on a hill in Danbury, Conn., fall 2017.

Here is the final photo in my celebration of Vulture Week, a week I totally made up because I had some vulture photos to share. This is a pair of black vultures, which are becoming more common in New England.

Final vulture fun fact: Vultures do not circle their prey, a misconception reinforced by so many Western movies. They do circle, but they do that whether there is prey below or not. If they find prey, they get to it quickly.

As a bonus, check out the Reader Submitted Photos page for a new photo of a soaring turkey vulture.

Celebrating Vulture Week, part IV

Photo by Chris Bosak  Vultures sit on a hill in Danbury, Conn., fall 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Vultures sit on a hill in Danbury, Conn., fall 2017.

Here’s a young turkey vulture with a wood chip in its mouth (for whatever reason) as a bunch of black vultures gather behind.

Fun vulture fact of the day: A “bunch” is not really what a group of vultures is called. Here are the real terms: “A group of vultures is called a kettle, committee or wake. The term kettle refers to vultures in flight, while committee refers to vultures resting on the ground or in trees. Wake is reserved for a group of vultures that are feeding.”

Taken from Wikipedia, so it can’t be wrong. Right?