For the Birds: Brown creeper highlights the fall

Here is the latest For the Birds column, which runs in several New England newspapers.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Brown Creeper finds food at the base of a tree during a cold snap in February 2016, Danbury, Connecticut.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Brown Creeper finds food at the base of a tree during a cold snap in February 2016, Danbury, Connecticut.

The fall migration is miraculous when you consider the thousands of miles birds fly from their breeding grounds to their winter havens. It’s also miraculous in its ability to stir excitement into the hearts and bones of otherwise completely normal adult human beings.

Well, “completely normal” may be pushing it with some birders I’ve come across, but you know what I mean.

Take the other day for instance. I was relaxing on the patio toward the end of a long day when a sight literally lifted me off my seat and drew me closer.

Bald eagle? Brown pelican? Some sort of rare bird not seen in generations?

No, it was a brown creeper. Brown creepers are just as their name suggests they are. For one, they are indeed brown. For another, they creep. They creep up trees looking for insects hidden among the bark. When they reach a point where they think they’ve exhausted a tree’s food supply, they fly quickly to the bottom of the nearest tree and start the creeping all over again.

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A few hoodies to end the year

Photo by Chris Bosak A Hooded Merganser swims in a pond in Danbury, Conn., Dec. 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Hooded Merganser swims in a pond in Danbury, Conn., Dec. 2016.

Here’s a nice male Hooded Merganser I spotted at a pond in Danbury, Conn., on the second-to-last day of 2016. Goodbye 2016. Let’s see what 2017 brings us.

Happy New Year and thanks for supporting http://www.BirdsofNewEngland.com in 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Hooded Merganser swims in a pond in Danbury, Conn., Dec. 2016.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Hooded Merganser swims in a pond in Danbury, Conn., Dec. 2016.

Latest For the Birds column: Red-breasted Nuthatch right on cue

A Red-breasted Nuthatch perches near a birdfeeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

A Red-breasted Nuthatch perches near a bird feeding station in Danbury, Conn., Oct. 2016.

Here’s the latest For the Birds column, which runs weekly in The Hour (Norwalk, Conn.), The Keene (NH) Sentinel and several Connecticut weekly newspapers.

I wrote three weeks ago about my affinity for the nuthatches we see in New England.

In the middle and southern parts of the region we see white-breasted nuthatches much more frequently than its smaller cousin, the red-breasted nuthatch. The latter variety, however, is seen more often in the northern reaches of New England.

The red-breasted nuthatch does show up at feeders in the middle and southern parts, especially in fall and winter, but not too often and in varying degrees depending on the year. In fact, the little birds will venture all the way to Florida during winter migration.

With that said, I was happy to receive an email from Dean a few days after that column appeared.

“You mentioned red-breasted nuthatches, which reminded me that I have not seen one in years,” Dean wrote from his Marlborough, Conn., home. “They are such cute little birds. Then two days after your article what shows up but an RBN at the feeder.”

A few days after Dean wrote me that email, I was sitting on my deck watching my feeders. It was an unending flurry of black-capped chickadees, tufted titmice, white-breasted nuthatches and downy woodpeckers. I got so tuned into seeing those species that it didn’t immediately register in my brain that a new arrival had appeared.

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A few book ideas for last-minute shoppers

Photo by Chris BosakCover of Water Babies by William Burt.

Photo by Chris Bosak Cover of Water Babies by William Burt.

I’m not sure if they can still be ordered online and arrive in time for Christmas, but here are some book ideas for those last-minute shoppers with a birder on their list. A simple Internet search of the title will yield plenty of ways to find the books.

In my “Bird Book Look” posts, I don’t give full reviews but rather post a photo of the cover and include a little information about the book. On occasion I offer a little personal insight.

Two bonuses on this post (hey, it is almost Christmas): I’ll include four books; and the photos were taken by my fireplace with a fire going _ my favorite way to read.

Here are the books.

The book pictured above is Water Babies by William Burt, a Connecticut-based nature photographer. I am also a Connecticut-based nature photographer, but I have never had the opportunity to meet William. Perhaps some day.

Duck, of course, are a favorite of mine so I love this book. It is a photo book with a lot information about the birds and the quests to photograph them on their breeding grounds. As the title suggests, it is mostly photos of baby ducks and other water birds.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

“Never-before-seen photographs of baby birds of the marshlands from a noted birding photographer

Naturalist William Burt is known for seeking out wild places and elusive birds―and none fit the bill quite so well as the creatures featured in this book. This may well be his break out book, featuring the downy young of the wetlands, Continue reading

Merganser Lake: Warblers at the feeder

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler visits a feeder in New England in fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Pine Warbler visits a feeder in New England in fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak A Pine Warbler visits a feeder in New England, fall 2015.

Photo by Chris Bosak
A Pine Warbler visits a feeder in New England, fall 2015.

Never at any of my former homes where I’ve maintained birdfeeders had I seen a warbler at the feeder. A few weeks at Merganser Lake and today alone I had three.

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Who doesn’t love chickadees?

Photo by Chris Bosak Black-capped Chickadee at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
Black-capped Chickadee at backyard feeder, Oct. 2014.

I highlight the Black-capped Chickadee as the second in a series of photos of our common backyard birds here in New England. This series of photos will focus on the birds we commonly see at our feeders. Can you ever see enough chickadee photos?