For the Birds: Unexpected, welcome discovery

Photo by Chris Bosak
A gray catbird with food perches on a branch in New England, summer 2019.

I heard what I was pretty sure was a scarlet tanager high in one of my oak trees. The thick foliage makes it nearly impossible to find anything up there. Even a brilliantly bright red bird like a scarlet tanager could easily be hidden from view.

I looked with my naked eye for several minutes, hoping to spot some motion to give away the bird’s location and identity. To my frustration, I couldn’t find a thing, even though I knew right where the song was coming from.

So, I figured I’d try scanning the area with my binoculars with the hopes of catching a glimpse of some bright red among the dark green leaves. Picking out a bird among thickly leafed-out treetops is usually a lesson in futility and humility.

But not this time.

No, I didn’t find a scarlet tanager. I did, however, find the active nest of an eastern wood-pewee. Somehow, my binoculars trained themselves right on the spot. The small, cupped nest is built in the Y of a dead branch sticking out among the impenetrable foliage, about 40 feet high.

I watched the mother pewee for a few minutes before she flew off into the woods. I noticed a bright orange object in the nest. I assumed it was a mushroom of some sort because the dead branch is covered in a white fungus. With my binoculars, however, I discovered it was the mouth of a baby bird waiting to be fed.

Sure enough, about two minutes later the mother bird returned and a few other orange “mushrooms” appeared.

It was the first time I had ever found an active eastern wood-pewee nest Continue reading

Eastern wood-pewee nest

Photo by Chris Bosak
An eastern wood-pewee sits on a nest in New England, summer 2019. The small orange thing at the edge of the nest is a newborn pewee.

I was happy to find an eastern wood-pewee nest the other day. I found it quite by accident (full story coming next week in For the Birds column.) It’s about 40 feet high and in the Y of a dead branch in an oak tree. Finding a nest is always a thrill and this is the first eastern wood-pewee nest I’ve ever found, making it even more special.

Again, the nest is high up in a shaded area, hence the poor quality of the photos.

What nests do you have in your yard? Drop me a line and let me know.

Photo by Chris Bosak An eastern wood-pewee tends to a nest in New England, summer 2019.
Photo by Chris Bosak An eastern wood-pewee sits on a nest in New England, summer 2019.