House Finches and eye disease

Photo by Chris Bosak A House Finch with an eye disease visits a feeder station in Stamford, Conn., March 2015

Photo by Chris Bosak
A House Finch with an eye disease visits a feeder station in Stamford, Conn., March 2015

It had been a while since I saw a House Finch with Mycoplasma gallisepticum, an eye disease that inflicts many House Finches in the eastern U.S.

The other day, however, I was watching a feeder station in Stamford, Conn., when a lone male House Finches showed up. With my new-found appreciation for House Finches (click here for more on that) I was happy to see the bird. Then the bird adjusted itself on a branch near the feeder and I noticed it had the disease. Poor thing.

Based on Project FeederWatch observations that alerted ornithologists to the problem, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology started the House Finch Disease Survey in 1994. Much was discovered about the disease, but obviously it has not gone away. The project has since been defunded, but Project FeederWatch participants can still report House Finches with this disease. It’s may seem like a small way to help, but it’s something. Every little bit helps when it comes to bird study.

For a lot more information on House Finches and the eye disease, click here.

Photo by Chris Bosak A House Finch with an eye disease visits a feeder station in Stamford, Conn., March 2015

Photo by Chris Bosak
A House Finch with an eye disease visits a feeder station in Stamford, Conn., March 2015

Can you spot the difference?

Photo by Chris Bosak American Goldfinches eat from a feeder at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
American Goldfinches eat from a feeder at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches share a Nyjer feeder at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches share a Nyjer feeder at Cove Island Park in Stamford, March 2015.

What’s the difference between these two photos?

It’s not one of those find 10 subtle differences puzzles, but rather a pretty simple quiz and lesson in paying attention closely to your feeders. These photos were taken about 10 minutes apart the other day at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Stamford, Conn.

The top photo, taken first, shows all American Goldfinches on a feeder offering Nyjer seeds. At first glance the next photo appears to show a bunch of American Goldfinches, too. But there’s more to that seco Continue reading

Clearing out my 2014 photos, Take 5: Gray Catbird

Photo by Chris Bosak A Gray Catbird perches on a thorny branch in Selleck's/Dunlap Woods in summer 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Gray Catbird perches on a thorny branch in Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in summer 2014.

Here’s my next photo in the series of 2014 photos that I never got around to looking at and posting.

I probably overlooked this photo because I have so many Gray Catbird photos. In the summer in southern New England, birds can sometimes be scarce as they are busy raising families and hiding from potential predators. Catbirds, however, always seem to be around. They aren’t always in the open, but they are more so than the other birds. Birders and nature photographers with itchy “clicking fingers” are thankful for the photo ops Gray Catbirds give us in the summer.

Northward expansion of the Red-bellied Woodpecker

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-bellied Woodpecker visits a suet feeder during a snow storm.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-bellied Woodpecker visits a suet feeder during a snow storm.

Here’s my latest For the Birds column that appeared in last week’s The Hour (Norwalk, Ct) and this week’s The Keene (N.H.) Sentinel. It is about the northward movement of the territory of the Red-bellied Woodpecker, a large and handsome woodpecker that has been common in southern New England but scarce in middle New England. That seems to be changing.

Here’s the link to the story.

Duck (watching) season begins in New England

Photo by Chris Bosak A female Bufflehead swims in Gorham's Pond, Nov. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A female Bufflehead swims in Gorham’s Pond, Nov. 2014.

Ducks are my favorite family of birds to watch in New England. The migration starts in October and many waterfowl may be seen in open water right up through April. For me, it makes our harsh winters that much more bearable.

With that said, here’s the first of what will likely be plenty of waterfowl photos I take (and post) this fall/winter/early spring season. It’s not a great photo, but it’s a start.

Female Buffleheads are much less dramatic looking their male counterparts, which feature contrasting black (or, depending on the sun’s angle, blue, purple or green) and white plumage.