Young Cooper’s Hawk after meal

Photo by Chris Bosak An immature Cooper's Hawk rests in a tree after eating a songbird in Norwalk, CT, summer 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An immature Cooper’s Hawk rests in a tree after eating a songbird in Norwalk, CT, summer 2015.

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:

 

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Red eyes in the bird world

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.

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.

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Birding starting to “heat” up

Photo by Chris Bosak A Black-and-white Warbler clings to a tree in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., in summer 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Black-and-white Warbler clings to a tree in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., in summer 2015.

It may be hot as ever as we head toward the second half of August, but the birding action is heating up as well. After a few months of relatively slow birdwatching as our feathered friends kept a low profile to raise families, the birds are starting to show themselves again.

I visited my brother Gregg’s house in upstate N.Y. near the Vermont border and the birds were out in full force. In one day I saw a Scarlet Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Black-and-white Warbler, Pileated Woodpecker, Wood Thrush, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. More common birds seen that day included chickadees, titmice, catbirds, Chipping Sparrows, American Goldfinches, robins and Blue Jays.

The summer is not over yet and the birdwatching is finally heating up, too.

Let me know what you see out there.

Latest For the Birds column: Answering some more bird questions

Last week I addressed a question that was submitted to me by a reader. This week I’ll continue to draw inspiration from my readers and quickly address some more questions and comments that came my way.

One question regarded a one-legged hummingbird. A reader delighted in the antics of a group of hummingbirds at her feeder. As many as four hummingbirds were visiting at one time. The reader noticed that one of the birds had only a stump for a leg. So, can a one-legged hummingbird survive in the wild?

Before I answer that, just a quick note to say that things are not always as they appear. Many birds appear to have only one leg, but often either the leg is tucked away into the bird’s body or the angle from which you see the bird makes it look like it is missing a leg. Waders (herons, egrets), shorebirds and waterfowl often stand on one leg.

But in this case, since the reader saw a stump instead of a leg, it’s likely the bird did indeed have only one leg. Obviously it’s not ideal, but birds that spend most of their time either flying or perched in trees, such as songbirds and hummingbirds, can indeed survive in the wild. Their wings

Click here for the rest of the column

Photos from Long Island Sound research cruise

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk educators and visitors look at the haul from a net brought in from Long Island Sound during a cruise aboard the Aquarium's new research vessel RV Spirit of the Sound on Saturday afternoon.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk educators and visitors look at the haul from a net brought in from Long Island Sound during a cruise aboard the Aquarium’s new research vessel RV Spirit of the Sound on Saturday afternoon.

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be able to join a research cruise of Long Island Sound aboard the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk’s new vessel Spirit of the Sound. It was the first day the nearly $3 million vessel took members of the public onto the water. (Yes, I was one of the first guests aboard, in case that ever comes up in a trivia questions.)

Anyway, I photographed the cruise for The Hour newspaper and I’ll add a link to the photo collection below.

Norwalk is lucky to have two nonprofits that offer cruises out among the Norwalk Islands. The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk and the Norwalk Seaport Association. To know something is to love something and these terrific organizations are dedicated to educating people about Long Island Sound, a vitally important ecosystem.

Here’s the link to more photos.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk educator Nicole Rosenfeld shows off a spider crab caught in Long Island Sound aboard the Aquarium's new research vessel RV Spirit of the Sound on Saturday afternoon.

Hour photo/Chris Bosak
Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk educator Nicole Rosenfeld shows off a spider crab caught in Long Island Sound aboard the Aquarium’s new research vessel RV Spirit of the Sound on Saturday afternoon.

Greater White-fronted Goose chilling with Canada Geese

 

Photo by Chris Bosak A Greater White-fronted Goose is seen with a flock of Canada Geese at Cove Island Park in Stamford, Conn., March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Greater White-fronted Goose is seen with a flock of Canada Geese at Cove Island Park in Stamford, Conn., March 2015.

Here’s a shot of a Greater White-fronted Goose within a flock of Canada Geese. The photo was taken Sunday, March 22, 2015, at Cove Island Park in Stamford, Conn.

It’s a reminder to look closely at flocks of Canada Geese for the stray bird. Individual Snow Geese are often found among flock of Canada Geese, too. So, when is a flock of Canada Geese not a flock of Canada Geese? When there’s something else in there, too. Look carefully.

The Greater White-fronted Goose is common in the West and Midwest, but seen only occasionally in the East.

I was alerted to this bird by the Connecticut birding list, so thanks to those who listed this bird.

Here’s a close up:

Photo by Chris Bosak A Greater White-fronted Goose is seen with a flock of Canada Geese at Cove Island Park in Stamford, Conn., March 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Greater White-fronted Goose is seen with a flock of Canada Geese at Cove Island Park in Stamford, Conn., March 2015.

Hard to watch ducks when Long Island Sound is frozen

 

Photo by Chris Bosak Long Island Sound is mostly frozen on Feb. 21, 2015, as shown by this scene from Weed Beach in Darien, Conn.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Long Island Sound is mostly frozen on Feb. 21, 2015, as shown by this scene from Weed Beach in Darien, Conn.

Birdwatching makes New England winters that much more bearable for me. I love the winter ducks that come down from the Arctic, Canada and northern New England and overwinter on Long Island Sound: Long-tailed Ducks, Bufflehead, Hooded Mergansers, Red-breasted Mergansers, Common Goldeneye and the like. Not to mention the other fowl like loons and grebes.

But it’s a little hard to watch ducks like this …

In my 16 years living near the coast of Connecticut I’ve never seen Long Island Sound be frozen. I’ve heard stories from oldtimers about Long Island Sound freezing over, but I’ve never seen it. Until now.

This morning (Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015) I brought my spotting scope down to Weed Beach in Darien, Conn., to check out the ducks. I didn’t even have to get the scope out of the car. Long Island Sound was frozen. Where kids swim in the summer and ducks swim in the winter, it was completely frozen. Ice as far as I could see. A small pool of water connecting Darien and Stamford and feeding Holly Pond was unfrozen and held a few Bufflehead and Red-breasted Mergansers, but that was it. The rest was ice.

Saturday was warm (relatively speaking, about 30 degrees) and Sunday is supposed to be even warmer (around 40), but Monday we are right back into single digits. We’ll see how the Sound reacts. I’d sure like to see my ducks again.