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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Evening Grosbeak Party

At the Stokes Birdfeeder Restaurant, the Evening Grosbeak party of 4 has been seated. The male is the bright yellow "space cadet," the females are wearing more sublte gray and yellow. A tray/platform birdfeeder such as this has the advantage of accomoding birds of many sizes, from smaller chickadees to these plus sized grosbeaks. The feeder in this photo is our Stokes Select 3-in-1 Platform Feeder which can be hung, mounted on a pole or set on the ground and is listed in the new Duncraft catalog as their pick for "Best New Bird Feeder."

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tom Turkey

In our meadow in front of our house, for the past 2 days, this resplendent male Turkey has been displaying to 2 females. They seem (at least on the surface) totally uninterested.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Morning Moose

This morning, this moose, this magic.

Early this morning we were treated to large moose trotting across our meadow next to the lake. We feel so lucky to live in a place where this can occur. Shot with a 300 mm telephoto from a distance.

Have a nice weekend, go look for some birds, warblers are already being seen in some locations. Yellow-rumped, Black-throated Green and Black-and-white Warblers have already been noted in NH.

If you don't have your hummingbird feeders up yet, get them out. Fill with a 1 part white sugar, to 4 parts water solution that is boiled for 1 min, then cooled. Hummers have been reported from as far north as southern NH, MI and MN. See their migration map here.

See you Monday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Bird Migration

Yellow-rumped Warbler in flight

Bird migration is underway now and will continue in full force, through mid-May. Millions of songbirds will enter the southern U.S. in places such as the Texas and Florida coasts when there are favorable wind and weather conditions. Clear skies, and southerly winds will launch them from their wintering grounds in Central and South America and the Caribbean. Dust off your binos and get ready to go outside, whether in your backyard, or to a nearby, or famous birding hotspot, to see the grand parade.
Here are a few web page links to migration information and radar information about migrating birds.

Monday, April 21, 2008

B & B, Birding and Breakfast

This weekend, eating breakfast and birding at the same time. Times like these are our favorite moments of the day. Do you have a place on your property where you can sit a moment with binoculars and look at birds? Think about creating one, even if its a bench looking at your bird feeders that you sit on for a few moments a day or a weekend. If you have a place, you will sit, see more and enjoy more. You will feel less stressed, more connected to nature. It will nurture your soul and enhance your life. Really.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Housing Market

Tree Swallow pair

Eastern Bluebird, male

Do you have your bird houses up and all cleaned out, ready for this year's tenants? Here's an Eastern Bluebird, male, recently exploring one of our bird houses. There was a female bluebird nearby watching him and his job was to convince her they should take out a mortgage for this house. A good nesting box is often hard to find.

One of the reasons you see two boxes close together in the above photo is the fact we "pair" our boxes. We have found that this is an effective method on our property for lessening the competition between species for nest boxes. We have a lot of Tree Swallows who nest on our property and they compete with the bluebirds, and even sometimes the chickadees and titmice, for boxes. A Tree Swallow will defend a small circle around its nest box from other Tree Swallows. If another nest box is placed within that circle, it will be defended from other Tree Swallows. Since the Tree Swallow can only nest in one of the boxes, that leaves the second box available to another species, not another Tree Swallow. We have often had a Tree Swallow and a bluebird nesting side by side. We will put a second "pair" of boxes 200-300 feet or more from the first "pair". We actually have a large trail of paired boxes and last year more than 10 pairs of Tree Swallows nested here as well as many other bird house species. It gives us great pleasure to follow the family life of these birds and to know we are, in a small way, helping sustain these species.

It's not too late this weekend to put up birdhouses. Go and purchase one or build your own. Click here for bird house plans. Many bluebirds, Tree Swallows and others are still searching for a home. So see what you can do to enhance the real estate market in your neighborhood. The birds will thank you.

(click on the words highlighted in blue to take you to other webpages with more information.)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

100+ Ducks and more

Common Merganser, male

So many birds are here now. Many migrating ducks are on our lake, raptors are migrating through, some songbirds are arriving, life is good! Seen in about the past week here:

2 Bald Eagles (1 ad., 1 imm.)
3 Osprey
3 Northern Harriers ( 1 ad. m., 2 imm.)
1 Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 Turkey Vulture
1 Common Loon
9 Common Goldeneyes
14 Black Ducks
2 Wood Ducks
50+ Common Mergansers
4+ Hooded Mergansers (one f. laying eggs in our nest box)
2+ Mallards
50+ Ring-necked Ducks
25 Canada Geese
1 Northern Shrike
14 Tree Sparrows
1 Fox Sparrows
2 Chipping Sparrows
1 Great Blue Heron
1 American Bittern
30+ Tree Swallows
1 Pine Warbler (ad. m.)
2 Bluebirds
2 Kingfishers
1 Killdeer
2 Ravens
1 Barred Owl
2 American Goldfinches
4 Eastern Phoebes

plus the bird feeder regulars like chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, Red-winged Blackbirds, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays and more.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Goldfinches Are Back!!!

Finally, the American Goldfinches have returned here to southern NH!! Three days ago Don said to me "do you want to bet when the first goldfinch arrives?" The words were hardly out of his mouth when we looked out the window and there at the feeders were the first two goldfinches. You can see the male goldfinch above at our Stokes Finch Tube feeder, filled with Nyjer Plus mix i.e., sunflower chips and thistle (nyjer) being enjoyed by a Downy Woodpecker and the goldfinch. He is still turning from his drab winter coloring into his bright yellow breeding plumage.
In our recent blog post, "Do You Have Goldfiches" we pondered the mysterious disappearance of the goldfinches from NH and other northern areas this winter. Was it because of lack of seeds here, the invasion of more northern finches such as Common Redpolls, because they knew this would be a record-breaking severe winter and decided to leave, or other reasons? Many of you from all over the country wrote and told us you had goldfinches this winter. The Zen Birdfeeder blog in upstate NY just told us that their goldfinch numbers were down all winter and their first goldfinches just reappeared. Have your goldfinches just arrived?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

And More Ducks

Today lots of ducks were on the lake and most of the ice has melted. We had about 60 ducks of various species including Hooded Mergansers, Common Mergansers, Buffleheads, Ring-necked Ducks, Mallards, Black Ducks and Wood Ducks. Above is a male Hooded Merganser displaying where he raises his crest to reveal the white "fan." We sat on the deck in the morning with a cup of coffee and looked through our scopes at the duck bonanza. Wonderful!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Common Merganser, female

And here is the Common Merganser, female. She looks different than the male show in our last blog post.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Common Merganser

Common Merganser, male

The ice is partially gone from the cove part of the lake we front on and ducks have moved in. Yesterday we saw 33 Common Mergansers diving down through the water and popping up in holes in the ice. Watch for migrant ducks and geese on water areas near you. This is a big migration time for them.

Photo © Lillian Stokes

Friday, April 04, 2008

Friday Phoebe

Blogger Phoebe here,
I'm just lying in my little bed, chewing my bone, while Lillian and Don are finishing their new book. They're so busy they let me have the blog today. I'm glad the snow is melting some here, so Lillian and Don can take me for long walks in the fields, one of my favorite things. Did you know there's a bird named a Phoebe? Yup, they actually named a bird after me. That's 'cuz I'm perfect. Do you think I have too many toys?

Til' later,
Blogger Phoebe, "woof"

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


If you came to this blog post because you were expecting answers about why you are not seeing goldfinches in any year, here is the answer.
Goldfinches are erratic about where they occur. They move around in winter depending on food sources. They may not appear in winter, spring, summer or fall in areas where they were previously. So at any time of year you may not be seeing them when you saw them before.
In addition, Goldfinches breeding range includes most of the northern two thirds of the country and into Canada. In winter, they leave the northernmost part of that range and are found in the rest of the U.S. including down into the South. Thus do not expect to see them in the far northern area of their range in winter, or the most southern part of their range in summer. Goldfinches change color in winter from their breeding yellow plumage to a brown-gray.
The best way to attract goldfinches is to keep feeders full of hulled sunflower, one of their favorites, or you can use thistle (nyjer) seed, make sure it is fresh. I have a new book coming out this fall, Sept. 17, 2024, The Stokes Guide to Finches of the United States and Canada. It includes everything about American Goldfinches and all the other finches; ID, breeding, food, migrations, conservation, and more. You can Pre-Order it now HERE!