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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

"Big Sit" birding results, 72 species

There was a beautiful rainbow at the end of the day.

The Ruby-throated Hummingbird, male, entertained us. He came regularly to the feeder. Here he is sitting on the perch we attached above the feeder, zipping in and out his tongue. Did you know rubythroats have long tongues and they lick up (not suck) the nectar at up to 13 licks per second.

Part of our team; Don in middle, Henry beyond with scope, Carl in chair, and Corgis, Abby (sitting) and Phoebe (typically, lying down).

The Gray Catbird loves the oranges in the Stokes Select Snacks'N'Treats feeder.

A Northern Mockingbird showed up at 7 pm, fed on suet, and left. We very rarely see mockingbirds here, nice of it to show up and be counted!

We participated in the NH Audubon's Birdathon fundraiser over the weekend. We did the Big Sit category where you stay in a 17 foot diameter circle all day and count all the birds you see or hear from the circle. There are other categories of participation as well, such as surveying the whole state. The circle was on our deck. People pledge a certain amount of money per species of bird you locate and the funds are donated to a cause, in this case, NH Audubon. So a fun birding time for a worthy cause.
We lucked out because, unlike all the completely rainy days we have had forever (so it seems), there was some clearing in the middle of the day and a few hawks rose up on thermals.
We had a few friends drop by to help with the count, and were even rewarded with a rainbow at the end of the day. We saw 72 species, not bad for an inland location in one spot:

Canada Goose

Wood Duck
American Black Duck
Hooded Merganser
Common Loon
Double-crested Cormorant
American Bittern
Great Blue Heron
Green Heron
Turkey Vulture
Bald Eagle
Sharp-shinned Hawk
Cooper's Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Mourning Dove
Chimney Swift
Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Pileated Woodpecker
Least Flycatcher
Eastern Phoebe
Great Crested Flycatcher
Eastern Kingbird
Blue-headed Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Common Raven
Tree Swallow
Bank Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Eastern Bluebird
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Gray Catbird
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow Warbler
Chestnut-sided Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Pine Warbler
Black-and-white Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Chipping Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Scarlet Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Indigo Bunting
Red-winged Blackbird
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
Baltimore Oriole
Purple Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

NH Audubon Birdathon is this weekend, Sat. May 21st

The Chestnut-sided Warbler's song sounds like "pleased-pleased-pleased-to-meet-you"

It's not too late to join the NH Audubon Birdathon, a competition for fun to see how many birds you can find in a day in a certain area, it's also a fundraiser. There are categories for how many birds you can find in the whole state or in your local region or by human-powered locomotion or in one area.
Click HERE for details.
We will be participating in the "big sit" category. Hoping for good weather, it has been nothing but rain, rain, rain, here for weeks.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Warbler Mania from Magee Marsh

Black-throated Green Warbler

Nashville Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Here are a few of my warbler photos from our recent, awesome trip to Magee Marsh, OH. These were taken last Wednesday. The boardwalk was loaded with warblers.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Stokes Schedule going to Midwest, OH, IL, MI

Magnolia Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Magee Marsh, OH, boardwalk entrance, that's where all the warblers are!

Lots of birders from all over come to Magee Marsh to see the warblers. See you there Wed.

Hi there,
Come see us in the Midwest this week. We will be at Magee Marsh, OH, warbler capital of the East in spring, this Wednesday, May 11th. See you on the boardwalk. The warblers gather there in early to mid-May, on the shore of Lake Erie, before they cross the lake. The Biggest Week in American Birding bird festival is going on there at the same time.

Then we are speakers at Tawas Point Birding Festival (Michigan Audubon) on Friday, May 13th pm. This is sold out but you can see us the next day, Sat. at 12:30 pm at our book signing. For info. call, (517) 886-9144.

See some of you soon!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Rose-breasted Grosbeak today!

This just made our day, a Rose-breasted Grosbeak FOY (first of the year) at our feeder this morning. I took this photo in dim light with my Canon 1D Mark IV at 1250 ISO. The Mark IV is an amazing camera, with it's ability to allow high ISO shooting with less grain. I love it!!!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Breeding Birds, relax, they know how

Nestling Robin

Robin about to fledge from the nest. Once it leaves the nest it's called a fledgling.

To help you better understand bird behavior, here is some basic information on the breeding cycle of birds. This is generalized information for most songbirds, certain species may vary from this. Watch your breeding birds from a distance and do not disturb them. Birds are very resourceful and adaptive. If something goes wrong during breeding, they will know what to do to fix it and will continue trying to breed. Rarely is human intervention needed.

Breeding begins by a male singing, forming a territory and trying to attract a female. If he is lucky, a female bird will choose him and join him on the territory. He then usually diminishes or stops singing.

The pair will mate, then the female lays 1 egg per day until the clutch is complete. Most songbirds lay 3-6 eggs. She usually lays the egg in the morning and does not stay near the nest the rest of the time. So if you see 2, or 3, or 4 eggs in a nest and no birds around, it does not mean it is abandoned, chances are the female will come back the next day and lay another egg until she has a complete clutch.

Then and only then, incubation begins. She will sit on the nest full time, taking brief breaks to feed, until the eggs hatch. Incubation is done mostly by the female and usually lasts about 12 to 14 days. During this time the female is quiet and the male stays somewhat near and does not sing.

When the eggs hatch both parents become very active bringing food to the nest. They carry away from the nest fecal sacs, little white packages that are the droppings of the young. This keeps the nest clean. The young, called nestlings, stay in the nest for about 12-14 days (longer for birds thart nest in birdhouses). The young at first have very few feathers. Then they have "pin feathers", feathers enclosed in sheathes. By the time they are ready to leave, the feathers have broken out of the sheathes, the young are fully feathered, and they call loudly.

If during the breeding cycle, one of the parents dies, the other parent will continue to try and raise the young by themselves and often they are successful. If it is during incubation and the female dies, the male cannot incubate and raise the young. In any case, the remaining parent will try and get a new mate as soon as possible.

When the young "fledge", or leave the nest they are called "fledglings". At first they may not be able to fly that well and for the first few days stay in the vicinicy of the nest. They are still fed by the parents for another several weeks. The fledglings often stay scattered in trees and call constantly. So if you hear constant chirping and see adult birds carrying food to different bushes or trees, chances are they are feeding fledglings. During the fledgling phase the adults may start a new brood. The male may sing again, mate with the female, and she will start a new clutch of eggs. even while he is still feeding fledglings from the first brood. The fledglings will eventually learn to feed themselves and the parents stop feeding them, and so the whole thing starts over. Many birds can have 2 or even more broods a season, especially in warmer climates.