How’s your warbler season going?

Photo by Chris Bosak A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A chestnut-sided warbler sings from a lower perch in Ridgefield, Conn., during the spring of 2017.

We are heading to a point on the calendar where the spring warbler migration should be hitting its peak before trickling off as we head into the later weeks of May. The weather has been so cool and wet that many birders are wondering where the early part of the spring migration went.

I am included in that group as, between coaching youth baseball teams and having rain put a damper on birdwalks, my spring migration season has barely started .. and it’s already mid-May.

I did have a good walk recently with sightings of chestnut-sided warblers, blue-winged warblers, ovenbirds, wood thrushes, eastern towhees, and — to top it off — a male scarlet tanager. I also hear barred owls calling in the distance.

How is your spring migration season going? Let me know what you’re seeing out there.

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Hummingbird photo number 2

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Ruby-throated Hummingbird eats at a feeder in Danbury, Conn., summer 2016

Updated: Somehow I repeated my first hummingbird photo. Two days into the series and I messed it up already. The photo above is the replacement (the one that should have been there in the first place). Sorry about that. Thanks for the heads up, Wayne.

Here’s is the second of a few posts featuring photos of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. The male’s throat is red or black or somewhere in between depending on how the light is hitting it.

Bird Book Look: Birdology

Cover of Birdology

Cover of Birdology

The book “Birdology” by Monica Russo came out earlier this year. It’s designed for kids, but is also interesting and engaging for adults. It is full of information about birds, activities for further exploration of birds and excellent photos by Kevin Byron.

I enjoy this book and have enjoyed reading parts with my kids.

Here’s the description of the book from its publisher Chicago Review Press:

“An engaging book that encourages young nature enthusiasts to explore the world of birds This generously illustrated, full-color book teaches kids that birds can be seen almost anywhere: in city parks and streets, zoos, farms, and backyards. Using “Try This,” “Look For,” and “Listen For” prompts, Birdology promotes independent observation and analysis, writing and drawing skills, and nature literacy. Kids observe the diversity of shapes, colors, patterns, and behavior of birds; listen for their songs and the clap of wings; make a juice-box feeder; plant flowers that attract hummingbirds; start a birding journal and sketchbook; and much more. Other topics that are presented in clear, kid-friendly prose include migration, nesting, food, territories, and conservation and preservation. Additional resources, such as a glossary, bird orders and scientific names, bird and wildlife organizations, and “Teacher Topics” to initiate classroom discussion and investigation, are also included.”

Black-crowned Night Heron and their big red eyes

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-crowned Night Heron looks for food in Holly Pond in Stamford in summer 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-crowned Night Heron looks for food in Holly Pond in Stamford in summer 2015.

I finally got my big camera lens back. I sent it to the “shop” months ago. “Oh, it will be back soon,” I heard week after week. But it’s back for real now. The next morning I drove by Holly Pond on the Stamford/Darien border and noticed a few Black-crowned Night Herons perched on rocks and branches exposed from the low tide. So I got between the sun and birds and tried out my newly fixed lens. it’s good to have it back.

More shots of the birds are below. Thanks for checking out http://www.birdsofnewengland.com

Continue reading

Looking back at a Barn Swallow nest

Photo by CHRIS BOSAK Young Barn Swallows look for food from their mother, which is returning to the nest with food.

Photo by CHRIS BOSAK
Young Barn Swallows look for food from their mother, which is returning to the nest with food.

Here’s a group of photos I took at a Barn Swallow nest, which was built on a light fixture in the covered portion of the parking lot where I work. The parents dive-bombed and swooped at all the people who parked nearby. They had only one brood before moving on. It’s a credit to the building owner that they let the nest remain throughout the entire process. This was a few summers ago, but I’ve never published all of these photos.

More photos below. Continue reading

Junco season winding down

Photo by Chris Bosak A Dark-eyed Junco perches in a tree in New England in March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Dark-eyed Junco perches in a tree in New England in March 2015.

We love to see our first Dark-eyed Juncos of the late fall. They remind us that our winter birds have arrived and will be with us for the next several months.

Well, those months are passing by quickly and soon the junco sightings will become scarce again. So here’s a shot I took of a junco the other day. Will it be one of the last— at least until next fall?

Did you know …

• Juncos are members of the sparrow family

• There are several types of juncos in the U.S., including Slate-colored; Oregon; Pink-sided; White-winged; Gray-headed; and Red-backed. Only the Slate-colored is found in New England.

 

Two backyard favorites in one shot

Photo by Chris Bosak A Northern Cardinal, left, and an American Goldfinch perch in a tree near a feeding station at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Stamford, Conn., in March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Northern Cardinal, left, and an American Goldfinch perch in a tree near a feeding station at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Stamford, Conn., in March 2015.

You don’t always see cardinals and goldfinches perched near each other, but when you are watching a feeding station at which the birds are somewhat skittish, anything can happen. The usual assortment of birds were enjoying the feast at Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary in Stamford, Conn., the other day, but other than occasionally being perched on the same feeder, the species generally kept away from each other.

However, the birds scattered every five minutes or so because of some unseen (by me anyway) force and sometimes the birds would find themselves perched next to an individual of another species.

I was focused on getting a photo of this cardinal, but noticed the goldfinch off to the right, so I decided to get them in the same frame. Why not?

One more of the hawk

Photo by Chris Bosak A Red-tailed hawk at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., January 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Red-tailed hawk at Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., January 2015.

I know I wrote in my first post about the Red-tailed Hawk that it would be a two-parter. I couldn’t resist, however, throwing this one up on the site, too. It’s a hawk’s world.

Eastern Towhee under feeder, nice start to 2015

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee searches a garden for food in Jan. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee searches a garden for food in Jan. 2015.

This weekend I was looking at the regular visitors to my birdfeeders, which in my case include Tufted Titmice, Black-capped Chickadee, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker and White-throated Sparrow (at least this time of year). Then I noticed another bird on the ground under the feeder: a male Eastern Towhee. Towhees are not typical feeder birds and this bird wasn’t necessarily around the feeder looking for sunflower seeds. It scratched under leaves and sticks in the garden for other seeds and any insects that may still be around. Towhees also eat berries during the winter.

Most towhees have flown south by now, but a few are still around trying to stick out the New England winter. I remember seeing several last winter, too.

I’ve been seeing more and more towhees over the last few years. Hopefully that means they are doing well overall as a species.

An Eastern Towhee in the garden in January: Not a bad way to start 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee searches a garden for food in Jan. 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee searches a garden for food in Jan. 2015.

BirdsofNewEngland’s random bird thought of the day: Ring-necked Ducks

Photo by Chris Bosak Ring-necked Ducks swim at Selleck's/Dunlap Woods in Darien, March 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Ring-necked Ducks swim at Selleck’s/Dunlap Woods in Darien, March 2014.

In my last post about getting out there to check out the ducks before they are gone for the summer, I listed a bunch of ducks that winter throughout New England, but breed farther north. I left off that list Ring-necked Duck. It just didn’t come to mind when I was compiling the list. Sure enough, the next day I went out for a quick bird walk and the only ducks I saw were Ring-necked Ducks. I immediately thought: Hey, I don’t think I mentioned Ring-necked Ducks in that last post.

So, finally getting its due, here you have the Ring-necked Duck, a very handsome duck that spends its winters here in New England (and well south, too) and breeds in northern New England and into Canada. As you can see from the photo, a more apt name might be Ring-billed Duck, but the scientists who named it likely had a dead specimen in hand and the ring around its neck — which is difficult to see in the field — was more visible. It took me years to stop calling it Ring-billed Duck, but I eventually got used to it.

Also, as you can see from the photo, the species is sexually dimorphic: the males and females look different. All ducks seen in New England are sexually dimorphic with the males often brilliantly colored and females usually more dull in color.