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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Rose-breasted Grosbeak arrivals

Rose-breasted Grosbeak male

We had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak show up at our feeders just a few hours after a friend had phoned us to say she had one arrive. We have also had reports from the mid-west of Rose-breasted Grosbeak arrivals. They have got to be on of the prettiest feeder birds.
Have you seen any?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yellow-rumps are here!

Yellow-rumped Warblers are one of the most common migrant warbler.

Look for their tell-tale yellow rump, a no-brainer for their ID

Yellow-rumped Warblers have arrived here. These ubuquitous spring migrants are one of the earliest spring migrant warblers to pass through here. We are first alerted to them by their song, a rather nondescript trill, which can rise or fall slightly. Best of all, they are just the advance guard of warbler spring migration. We look forward to a rainbow parade of migrant warblers arriving soon.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Purple Finch Feast

We have had an influx of Purple Finches for the last two days. They seem to like our platform feeder which is filled with hulled sunflower and a quality mix. I just love their purple color, more of a raspberry red than the tomato red of a male House Finch. We had three males feeding at the same time, a feast for them and a feast for our eyes.
Have a nice bird-filled weekend.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day

"Prairie Fire" Crabapple in our garden.

Amelanchiers produce berries in mid-summer.

Today is Earth Day. The Earth Day network hopes to activate a billion people worldwide to take some personal action to better the earth, whether it is recycling, planting a tree, changing your lightbulbs to compact fluorescents, or anything else to help the earth.

We are buying a tree to plant. We always try to get one that is good for the birds. Some of our favorites are Crabapple trees and Amelanchier.

Crabapples have blossoms that attract orioles and Cape May Warblers who drink nectar from their blossoms, then robins, Cedar Waxwings, bluebirds, catbirds, Pine Grosbeaks and many others eat the crabapples.

We have Amelanchier, "Autumn Brilliance" planted across the entrance to our garden. These wonderful trees bloom early and produce berries in mid-summer. Cedar Waxwings, robins and bluebirds line up to get the berries when they're ripe. So think of what you can do to help the earth today.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Hummingbirds Are Here!

Get out your hummingbird feeders! Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have arrived and been seen as far north as NH, where we live, also ME, VT, NY, MI, MN and WI. The word on the street is that hummingbirds have migrated early this year.
Fill feeders with a nectar solution of one part white table sugar, to four parts water. Boil for a minute to disolve the sugar, cool, fill feeders. Clean and refill feeders ever 2-3 days in hot weather.
To see a migration map of when Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have arrived where, click here.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring "To Do" List

Baltimore Orioles can be attracted with orange halves, especially when they first arrive from migration. Later, when they're nesting, they primarily eat insects.

Cardinals like to nest in dense shrubs.

Spring is here, so here's a few "to do's" to welcome the birds:

* Make sure all your bird houses are cleaned out.

* Put up new bird houses, since hole-nesting birds like bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, wrens, Tree Swallows, etc. are actively choosing houses now, plus there will be houses available for later arrivals.

* Try offering new foods, like mealworms, oranges for orioles, other fruit, jelly.
* Plant shrubs that provide nesting structure for birds such as lilacs, alders, dogwood shrubs, evergreens, willows, etc. Plant them in groups.

* Get up your hummingbird feeders now, (at the latest by Mother's Day if you live in the most northern sections of the country). Make sure to clean hummingbird feeders ever 2-3 days in hot weather.

* Plant red tubular flowers to attract hummingbirds, such as red salvia, red impatiens, trumpet honeysuckle vine, like Goldflame Honeysuckle (Lonicera heckrotii), trumpet vine (Campsis radicans), red bee balm, red fuschia.

* Plant composite-type perennials and annuals such as, Purple Coneflower and Rudbeckia, whose seed heads will attract finches and sparrows. Butterflies will come to Purple Coneflower when its in bloom.

* Make sure you have several bird baths filled with fresh, clean water all summer.

* Clean your bird feeder regularly with a mild bleach solution, rinse well. Keep them filled with sunflower, and quality mixes.

* Put a bench or adirondack chair in your backyard where you can sit with binoculars and enjoy the show. That could be your summer vacation.

We will be busy for several days, so see you next Tuesday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The "Corgi Force"

Greetings from Blogger Phoebe, the Corgi,

That's me on the right. My fans have been asking about me, so I thought it was time for a Corgi update. As you know, my cousin, Abby, has come to live with us. Since I am the perfect one, I have decided she is "in-training-to-be-perfect." Don't tell her, but she will never be perfect, since there is only one perfect one, and that is me! However, I am the perfect teacher for her, just like Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, trained Luke Skywalker to use "the force."

I am training her in using the "Corgi force," and we practice wrestle. I often let her think she is winning, to build her confidence, but I could take her down anytime I wanted.

This Corgi in training has much to learn. Here is a lesson in dog physics. She is licking the raindrops through the window. I must teach her that you sit at the door and whine, like you need to go out, then Lillian and Don will let you out, then you can play with the raindrops all you want. That is using the "Corgi force" on humans. I am an expert at that.

All in all I really like having Abby around. Just wait until she is smarter, then we can both use the "Corgi force" on Lillian and Don.

Until later, this is Blogger Phoebe signing off, Woof-Woof, and to all you Corgis who are reading this, "May the Corgi Force be with you."

Friday, April 10, 2009

Happy Easter

I photographed this Eastern Cottontail rabbit on our property a few years ago. Rabbits are not common where we live. We have seen cottontails and also Snowshoe Hares, but only rarely.
Have a Happy Easter weekend.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Snow Goose

Woke up yesterday morning,vopened the blinds on our bedroom window, looked out over our view and saw a white blob down by the water. I went to the bed, got the binoculars that hang on our bedpost — yes, you heard that right, we have binoculars hanging on our bedpost because, you know we're bird nuts — and looked out. A Snow Goose!! How Cool! Don recently said, "one of the things I love about Bobolink Farm (our NH home) is that you never know what you're going to see." How true.

The Snow Goose proceeded to walk around our fields for half an hour. We did not go for our usual morning walk with the Corgis, because we did not want to disturb it (try and explain that to a Corgi!) At one point, it came within 400 feet of the house and I got this photo with my telephoto lens from our deck.

We wondered why it was there alone. They are usually in big flocks during their migration time. All of a sudden, it flew up, and at the same time several Canada Geese lifted up from the pond, and it flew towards them. Maybe it will join them and continue on its journey to its northen breeding range near Hudson Bay and the Arctic.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

American Woodcock

American Woodcock

Feeds by probing in the muddy ground for earthworms

Last night in our field, at dusk, we heard an American Woodcock calling it's peculiar, nasal "peent" sound. I looked through my Stokes DLS 8x42 binocular, (which is extremely bright and "twilight optimized") and could actually see the bird in the dim light. Wow, what a great bird!! Those shoebutton eyes on top of its head allows it to look for predators while it feeds on earthworms with its bill stuck in the ground.
One of the most astounding things about woodcocks is the males's courtship display, which is exactly what our bird was doing. After giving multiple "peents" he rose in the air in a spiral, hundreds of feet high and you could hear his wings making a twittering sound. At the very top of his flight, he made a canary-like chirping for several seconds, as he began his descent. After landing, he began his "peent" calls again.
Male woodcocks do courtship displays, at dusk and dawn, in open fields, hoping to attract as many females as they can. Females go to the fields, mate with a male, then go into the woods and nest and raise the young by themselves. The young are born fully feathered and can walk and soon feed themselves.
Woodcocks nest in much of the eastern part of the country. If you live near open fields you can go and listen for woodcock displays and witness this amazing woodcock behavior for yourself.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Fox Sparrow

Yesterday we had 2 Fox Sparrows at our feeder. This is one of my favorite sparrows because it's so colorful (for a sparrow!) and we don't get many. I love the rufous, foxy color on this bird. There is geographic variation in the coloring of Fox Sparrows, with the eastern ones being the most rufous color. It's also one of our largest sparrows, so it really stands out among the juncos, song and tree sparrows dining at our feeders.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Indigo Bunting & Spring Migration

I was thinking about bird migration and where to go to see major spring migration. Much songbird migration takes place from mid-April to mid-May. Starting in mid-April one of the prime places to be is on the Gulf Coast. Many spring migrants, who winter in Central and South America go across the Gulf of Mexico. We have been in Sanibel Island, FL and Ft. De Soto park (below Tampa) FL, and been standing at the waterfront and seen birds appear before our eyes, flying in from the ocean, having just crossed the Gulf of Mexico. It is quite awesome. Indigo, Painted and Blue Buntings, Orioles, Tanagers, Kingbirds, and Warblers land in the trees. Hummingbirds fly to the nearest flowers or feeders.
We have also been on the Texas coast, at places like South Padre Island, and seen migration "fall out", where birds coming across the Gulf, encouter a head wind and are grounded as they reach shore, landing on the beach, or any little shrub or tree. Hundreds and hundreds of birds right around us. It is mind-boggling, although in that case, not so good for the tired birds. You hope the winds shift and they can be on their way and find food.
Some Indigo Buntings also winter in FL and that is where I took this photo.
By early May, many migrants are reaching the northern part of the country and then you want to go to Magee Marsh/Crane Creek, OH, Central Park, NY, Mt. Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, MA, or Pt. Pelee National Park, Ontario Canada.