Butterflies, like this eastern black swallowtail, are a good diversion when the birding is slow on hot, summer afternoons.
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. 10 and 9.
Feel free to comment or send me an email with some of your 2018 birding or nature highlights.
10. Bobolinks at preserve. Happy Landings is a huge, protected field in Brookfield, Connecticut, where bobolinks thrive. Fields and meadows are a critical and disappearing habitat so it’s nice to see some still exist and are maintained for the wildlife that depend on them.
9. Visit from a luna moth. May brought several bird surprises to my yard, but also a visit from another interesting creature. I went to refill the bird feeders one day and noticed a luna moth clinging to a screen. I’ve seen the large green moth only a few times previously. It hung around all day and was gone the next morning.
I spent some of the rainy Saturday at Bennett’s Pond in Ridgefield, Conn. I didn’t see or hear a single warbler, but I did see and hear several eastern towhees. It is a great bird with interesting plumage and a unique song.
Formerly called the rufous-sided towhee, this bird has light brown/reddish flanks. Its call is a loud and quickly uttered “tow-hee” and its song is the famous “drink-your-teaaa!” They are more often seen on the ground, scratching in the leaves to uncover food. The male is pictured in this post. The female, which I couldn’t photograph yesterday but did see, is also a handsome bird with white and reddish light brown plumage.
They were passing through in large numbers Saturday. I hope at least a few of them stick around locally to nest. It’s a great bird to see in summer when the birding can get a little slow.
You can even see the little rain drops on this guy.
Here’s one of him singing: Drink-your-teaaa!
It’s been about a year and a half since I bought a house in the woods. It’s not exactly isolated like Thoreau’s cabin on Walden Pond, but it is in the woods nonetheless. Every once in a while a scene catches my eye and I need to grab a photo of it, even with my iPhone.
If it doesn’t include a bird in the photo, I typically do not post it to this site. With this photo I will start posting them more often. Otherwise the photos never see the light of day. The woods are just too cool not to share.
Below is the color version. Which one do you like better?
This post is for my friend Lorna, a tough young bird. The Hour family is thinking of you.
The feeder is an Enchanted Bird Venetian Bronze feeder by Good Directions. More importantly for this post, though, it was a gift from Lorna when I bought my house in Danbury last year. Well, it works Lorna, as you can see from these photos. More photos to come in the following days, too.
Thanks again, Lorna, and be well!
February may be a few weeks away, but there’s no harm in being prepared for what’s in store.
February is a big month in the birdwatching world. It’s a cold month in the middle of winter, but a little birding and bird feeding will help make the cold more tolerable.
First of all, February is National Bird Feeding Month. I don’t normally get too excited about national this month or that, but I’ll celebrate anything that gives me an excuse to do more birdwatching. National Bird Feeding Month was first proclaimed in 1994.
Also, February is always the month of the Great Backyard Bird Count. I’ll write more about this citizen science project in a later column, but just so you can mark your calendars, this year it will be held the weekend of Feb. 12-15.
For now, in honor of National Bird Feeding Month, here are a few tips on how to attract birds to your yard in the typically cold month of February.
Suet is a must. Whether you use pre-packaged suet cakes or make your own out of beef fat (the store-bought cakes are much, much easier), suet should be an offering in the winter. I can count on one hand the number of minutes a bird is not at my suet feeder. Usually it’s a Downy Woodpecker, but also seen are Hairy Woodpeckers, Red-breasted Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches, and Carolina Wrens. Occasionally, chickadees and titmice visit the suet as well.
Who knows? You may even get lucky and have a Pileated Woodpecker come visit. I had one at my suet feeder about 10 years
Here’s my For the Birds column from last week. Another big Snowy Owl irruption year? We’ll see …
The historic Snowy Owl irruption of the 2013-14 winter is still fresh in many people’s minds. I know it’s still on the top of my mind. Could we be in store for another one this winter?
We’ll have to wait and see, of course, but if what is happening in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan already is any indication, the chances are pretty good. We’ve barely turned the calendar over to November and sightings in those states are booming. Typically it is mid to late November when the Snowy Owls start showing up.
The Snowy Owl that delighted hundreds of visitors at Calf Pasture Beach in 2008, however, showed up in early November. This year the sightings in the Midwest came even earlier, starting as early as Oct. 20, according to the folks at eBird. eBird is an online database of bird sightings with much of the data submitted by citizen scientists.
Last post about the Pine Warblers that visited my feeders recently, I promise. I did an original post and followed that up with a post that included several more photos. I’ll conclude with my favorite (previously unpublished) photo I took of the warblers.
The warblers were there for a total of three days. On day one it was one Pine Warbler, on day two it was three and on day three it was back to only one. At one point all three landed on the feeder at once. From the photo above, you can tell they didn’t like sharing.
I love when these types of calls come in.
“Hey Chris. It’s Alex. There’s a hawk in the parking lot. Come down.”
I jumped in the elevator, went down and met Alex (one of the photographers here at The Hour) in the parking lot. Sure enough, there was an immature Cooper’s Hawk sitting in a tree right above some cars. I grabbed a few shots, shot the breeze a bit with Alex and went back to work. Not all good bird photographs happen that easily, trust me.
Before I arrived, the young hawk had been eating a smaller bird, perhaps a catbird or titmouse, it was tough to tell from the scraps I could see on the ground. Alex captured a few shots of the hawk eating. He tweeted one, which may be seen here:
My most recent For the Birds column focuses on birds with red eyes. It starts with Black-crowned Night Herons and then talks about the other New England birds with red eyes. I can run only one photo with the column in the newspaper, so here are some more photos that would accompany the column. The column may be found here.
This is not an all-inclusive list, of course, just a few photos I had readily available.